Tuesday, 28 January 2014

"The Magus of Hay," by Phil Rickman

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

This is going to be another quick catch up post. I lamentably have not got very far with my maternity leave reading, and have had little chance to read or blog since my rather screamy baby was born on Boxing Day. I did however finish "The Magus of Hay" just before he was born, and I am trying to perfect my one handed typing technique while supporting a 4 week old baby on my lap to start blogging again.

In "The Magus of Hay" Phil Rickman re-introduces two characters from his earlier novel "The Crown of Lights," artist Robin Thorogood and his sensitive - meaning psychic to an extent - wife, Betty. Robin is struggling to piece his life back after events in the earlier novel, and he impulsively decides that his new project should be opening a pagan bookshop in Hay on Wye.  Their lives then intersect once again with Merrily Watkins, deliverance minister, as they all get drawn into the intrigue surrounding the death of an elderly man.

This novel sees Merrily more isolated than usual, as her musician boyfriend, Lol, goes away on tour and her daughter, Jane, is away from home on an archaeological dig prior to going to university.  I had mixed feelings about this. It was an interesting change to show Merrily at a remove from some of her normal support network, and yet I missed Lol and Jane as they are both characters of whom I am very fond.  As a book geek, I also enjoyed the Hay on Wye setting (which brought back fond memories of a visit there when I was a student).

The Merrily Watkins novels continue to be my favourite series of mysteries and, as always, I will be waiting impatiently for the next book.  When I read the Ruth Galloway series of mysteries recently - which I briefly wrote about on this blog - I was mentally comparing them to Phil Rickman's novels, as I became very fond of the recurring characters in the Ruth Galloway series but was less satisfied by the mystery element. Phil Rickman is an excellent example of a writer who excels at both.

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