The Cure of Souls (Merrily Watkins Mysteries)
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Merrily Watkins faces multiple occult threats in her fourth outing
In Herefordshire's hop-growing country, where the river flows as dark as beer, a converted kiln is the scene of a savage murder. When the local vicar refuses to help its new owners cope with the aftermath, diocesan exorcist Merrily Watkins is sent in by the Bishop. Already involved in the case of a schoolgirl whose mother thinks she's possessed by evil, the hesitant Merrily is drawn into a deadly tangle of deceit, corruption, and sexual menace as she uncovers the secrets of a village with a past as twisted as the hop-bines which once enclosed it.
undying essence to God,’ Merrily said. The moon was full on her face and she didn’t look like a saint or a goddess. She looked like a woman. ‘That’s Deliverance.’ He said on impulse. ‘Merrily, how can you love Him? How can you commit your—?’ ‘Can I love Him like a man?’ ‘Words to that effect.’ ‘You want this straight?’ He nodded. ‘When I pray, I don’t see a man. Or a woman. I just experience – it started out as imagination, but now it truly exists – a warmth and a light and a great core of…
eventually reported it to his superiors, a detective was assigned to check it out. By this time, Ron had put some more stuff together – reports of the kiln furnace being fired for two days or more, even though the hop season was well over.’ ‘Not unusual,’ Charlie said. ‘Furnaces can be used for more than drying hops. You don’t talk like somebody works for some gypsy-loving civil-liberties charity, either.’ ‘Did you never have the furnace checked out for…’ Lol struggled to keep the ignorance out
exorcism-of-place. The bungalow had lace curtains and flower beds with bright clusters of bedding plants. It was traditional – no barbecue, no water-feature. And no one had answered the door. But this woman looked promising. She was about the right age – mid-fifties. With her dark green linen skirt and her grey-brown hair loosely permed, you had the impression she didn’t care overmuch if she did resemble her mother at that same age. Merrily switched off the engine, wound down the window and
was in front of them now. It was built of red brick and was smaller than it had looked by night, and now the full horror of the barn sandwich became apparent. The actual kiln tower, with just one window, was at the front, but most of the other windows seemed to be on the sides, permanently shadowed by industrial metal. Lol climbed over the stile and found Stock standing on the edge of the field, lighting his roll-up. ‘If you hadn’t guessed, Uncle Stewart’s final gesture was Gerard Stock.
‘But it didn’t feel right to me either. Boy was clever enough to realize smartish where Stock was going, but not intelligent enough to control his reactions – if he had something to hide. Does that make sense?’ Lol nodded. ‘Lots of money, well educated, but nowhere near as clever as Stock. And yet…’ He turned to Simon, took a breath. ‘Look, what you said about exorcism…’ They came to the vicarage; against dark woods and hills and the lines of foliate poles in the hop-yards, its whiteness seemed