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The Smile of a Ghost (A Merrily Watkins Mystery Series) Hardcover – Unabridged, 18 Nov 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Main Market Ed. edition (18 Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405051698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405051699
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 442,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'A first class thriller with a difference' -- Maxim Jakubowski, The Guardian.

'Rickman's crime series is one of the best around.' -- Andrew Taylor, Spectator Books of the Year.

'The setting is brilliant... a great job.' -- Margaret Cannon, Toronto Globe and Mail

Book Description

The seventh novel in this hauntingly unique mystery series

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In this the seventh of his Merrily Watkins novels, Phil Rickman once again proves that you really can't get too much of a good thing. While The Smile of a Ghost does not find the Rev. Merrily Watkins in such dire or dark supernatural peril she has contended with previously, the demons she must face are just as chilling -- the possible elimination of her very role as Deliverance Minister by modernizing forces in the Church as well as her own self-doubt. And this crisis couldn't have come at a worse time -- in the midst of a tragic trend of teen suicides, possibly influenced by a 12th century ghost and a very hauntingly real "ghost" of sorts from Merrily's Goth days of the more recent past.
In spite of this novel's thematic seriousness, Rickman manages to weave subtle strands of wit and humor throughout, and his astounding facility with character and dialogue only gets better with each book. Through his superb crafting of narrative perspective, the personalities of Rickman's characters' seem to hijack their way from chapter to chapter with an amazing fluidity that makes the book very hard to put down.
If you're a regular reader of Rickman's novels, this newest one will not disappoint. If you're new to the novels of Phil Rickman, you're in for a treat. Either way, The Smile of a Ghost will leave a reader smiling.
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Format: Paperback
I've read every one of Phil Rickman's / Will Kingdom's books and have found them utterly un-put-downable. I'd already started a Dan Brown when Mr Rickman's latest offering dropped through the letter box, but Dan was discarded in favour of Phil. As usual, there is the careful crafting of an intricate story, with a deceptively slow start. It's a case of drip, drip, drip, FLOOD! with this book. A lot happens very quickly in the last few chapters and it took a while to decipher all the connections. This was very good, but not quite Mr Rickman's best offering. It is still well worth buying & I've already recommended it to my friends. I'm disappointed that I've already finished the book and I look forward to the next offering.
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By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 July 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ludlow in Shropshire is a really atmospheric town and Phil Rickman has captured this atmosphere in this enthralling story. Merrily Watkins has been told she must work with a colleague - Canon Sian Callaghan-Clark - and a psychiatrist - Nigel Saltash. Everything she is asked to do in the way of Deliverance must be referred to them first before any action is taken. Merrily is not happy about this as she is used to working on her own. Andy Mumford - newly retired police officer has his own problems adjusting to his changed status. When his nephew falls from Ludlow Castle and is killed he contacts Merrily because he feels something strange is happening in the town.

There are ghosts enough to satisfy the most avid ghost hunter in Ludlow as well as other - perhaps evil - influences. The Bishop of Hereford asks Merrily to look into the increasingly strange happenings in the town on an unofficial basis because no one wants a fuss made. This leads Merrily into many strange and dangerous situations where no one's motives are clear. All the familiar series characters are here - Lol Robinson, recently returned to Ledwardine and living in Lucy Devenish's old cottage; Jane - Merrily's teenage daughter; Sophie - the Bishop's secretary and Frannie Bliss - maverick detective.

I found this seventh episode in the Merrily Watkins series to be every bit as good as the previous six and it kept me reading late at night to finish it - even though I have read it before when it was first published. Each of the books in the series can be read as a stand-alone novel but it adds an extra depth to your reading if you have read the previous instalments. I recommend both this book and the series as a whole to anyone who likes an extra dimension to their crime novels.
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Format: Paperback
The Smile of a Ghost is another page-turner from Phil Rickman who continues to play with his "did or didn't the paranormal cause the murder" theme. The psycho-geographical character this time is Ludlow. Meanwhile poor Merrily has an added sinister threat to contend with. New Labour managerialism and psycho-babble has finally caught up with the Church of England in the form of the Diocesan Deliverance Advisory Panel.

As ever the author has his finger on the pulse of contemporary society, exploring uncomfortable themes with a deftness of touch:-the dangers of internet chat-rooms; the fate of active policemen forced into retirement;teenage depression and the role of religion in an increasingly secular society, prone to turn more to New-Age self-help books than to God. And the framework is all there, proving as always that truth is often stranger than fiction.....
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a firm fan of Merrily Watkins (or indeed Rickman in general) you will not be disappointed by this luxuriously long, enticing book. If you're a Watkins virgin, put the kettle on, unplug the phone and look forward to a gripping read. I keep thinking that Rickman has surpassed himself with his novels as they come out, and then he surprises us yet again.
This story is mainly based in Ludlow around some mysterious deaths which have taken place; however as usual the paranormal and the criminal is interjected with commonplace problems that Merrily Watkins, vicar, exorcist, lover of musicion Lol Robinson and mother of tempestuous teenager Jane, faces at work and in her private life, which brings the reader back to earth with a non-instrusive bump. The characters are, as always, fantastically drawn and the dialogue is so real you can hear it in your head. The twist at the end is both horrifying and deeply saddening. Don't miss it!
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