Rickman, Phil - 'The Fabric of Sin'
In THE FABRIC OF SIN, Merrily Watkins, assisted by her teenage daughter Jane and her boyfriend, formerly reclusive folk singer Lol Turner, investigate the Master House in Garway, rural Herefordshire, and its former inhabitants, so that she can take appropriate religious action to soothe any unrest lingering in the house. The Master House, which may have had historical connections with the Knights Templar, has recently been bought by the Duchy of Cornwall, and is being restored. A young girl, Fuschia, working on the restoration of the house as a plasterer, claims to have had an unsettling psychic experience there, and requests help from the local vicar. The local vicar, Teddy Murray, supported by the Duchy's local representative call for Merrily's assistance.
Once Merrily realises that the experience Fuschia describes bears an uncanny resemblance to a short story by M R James, renowned Victorian ghost writer, Merrily assumes that Fuschia is lying, and tries to waste the minimum amount of time investigating and away from her parish. She then takes Fuschia's story rather more seriously when Fuschia and her boyfriend are found dead in violent circumstances. Merrily then starts to investigate with greater vigour, despite being warned off by her superiors in the church, who appear to be acting under political pressure. Masons, churchmen and the local herbalist all have their own agenda, and reasons for being rather economical with the truth when Merrily delves into the recent past, and a disappearance after a ritual at the Master House.
As ever, Phil Rickman convincingly depicts life in the rural borderlands. He manages to introduce elements of local history, and the supernatural with his usual flair, even managing to provide a credible and interesting subplot involving Templar mythology.
Laura Root, England