The Lamp of the Wicked (Merrily Watkins #5) – Phil Rickman

I’m really enjoying Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series. Which tells the story of a female vicar in a small parish near the English and Welsh border. Not only has she become vicar not too long after it has been decided that woman can become vicars in the Church of England but she’s also the Deliverance Consultant (a nice term for exorcist) for the Hereford area. Merrily is a young widow with a teenage daughter, Jane. What I like about this series is that it doesn’t only deal with the exorcist part of Merrily’s job but also her own and her daughter’s life and stuggles. Throughout the series all regular characters have changed. Also, when dealing with Merrily’s job as Deliverance Consultant it isn’t done in an over-the-top way. It’s dealt with as I think it might be dealt with in real life, with care and some scepticism.

This fifth installmant is about a possible serial murderer who is inspired by the Fred and Rosemary West killings. Merrily is having a lot on her plate in this book; the fire of Gomer Parry’s yard (killing his nephew), her relationship with Lol, Jane’s depressed feelings, a new parishioner who anonymously donates a lot of money Ledwardine’s church (but what does she want for it in return?), DI Bliss’ need to prove himself and Huw’s personal history with the murderer and victims. This book also deals with hypersensitivity for power lines.

All this might make a confusing story but Rickman pulls it off without confusing the reader. At times I got a bit exasperated by Jane’s behaviour (even if she’s a teenager) and I loved how Lol is starting to find himself. It’s also interesting to see that Merrily and Lol’s relationship is not so very different from Jane’s and Eirion’s, despite Jane and Merrily thinking it’s very different.

Like the previous book this book has a faster pace than the first three, which I like. Usually when reading a series in relative fast succession I burn out after a couple (Sigma Force, Charlie Parker) but I still want to come back to this series soon after I finish a book. It’s just that I want to know what’s coming next for the characters, how they are going to deal with situations that have arisen and how they will progress.

I can really recommend this series to anyone who likes mysteries. It’s almost a cozy mystery series, but not quite.