As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Corvus, 30 October 2014. ISBN: 978-0-85789-869-2
It’s hard to know where to begin with a Phil Rickman novel, there’s so
much going on on so many levels. I suspect they’re something of an acquired
taste, though it took me about one chapter of one book to acquire it, and these
days I can hardly wait for the next one.
After Night is a standalone, if you
don’t count his earlier works under the name Will Kingdom. It’s also a
departure from the dozen chunky volumes featuring Merrily Watkins, village
vicar and diocesan exorcist (though they don’t call it that any more) for which
he is best known. But there are common themes, the key one being the point
Rickman sets out to make every time he puts fingers to keyboard: there are
more things in heaven and earth..., followed closely by don’t mess with
what you don’t understand.
a TV production company sets out to take the Big Brother concept to a whole new
level, by placing seven people in a haunted house. That’s the hugely
oversimplified version, of course; there’s a lot more involved than a portrayal
of trash TV.
it’s a murder mystery is open to conjecture, but as a psychological thriller
it’s as good as the genre gets. The first half sets the scene: a half-derelict
Tudor mansion with a grim history and even grimmer location close to an ancient
burial ground; it’s depicted richly and in the kind of half-tones shot with
occasional colour that creates exactly the right ambience for the mystery to
come. That’s mystery in the old sense. It also introduces a large cast of
characters, each of who combines a kind of symbolic representation of, well,
something, with still coming over as a living, breathing person. Mostly still
living and breathing, that is.
having drawn you in and lulled you into a sense of maybe something a bit spooky
about to happen when the seven ‘residents’ enter the house, Rickman starts to
ramp up the tension. And that’s his greatest strength of all: building
atmosphere, playing on the half-buried memories, fears and uncertainties of
both characters and readers, making you believe, if you didn’t before, that
there really are more things in heaven and earth than we could possibly dream
of, and that to say it’s dangerous to get in their way or exert any control
over them is to understate the case by a vast margin.
as if that wasn’t enough, the narrative takes a long, hard look at the whole
operation behind a reality TV programme, and shows how the process is controlled
and manipulated into the shape the producers think will pull in the biggest
viewing figures. Except in this case the producers may not be as firmly in
control as they think.
King said, Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.
Rarely has that been more accurately achieved than in this book.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Phil Rickman was born
in Lancashire. He has spent most of his adult life in Wales and the Border
country, where he won a couple of awards for his work as a BBC radio and TV
His first novel,Candlenight (1991) was discovered by the novelist and
fiction-editor Alice Thomas Ellis. He followed it with four other stand-alone
ghost stories before the Merrily Watkins series began with The Wine of Angels.
Phil lives near Hay-on-Wye with his wife,
Carol –they met as journalists on the same paper .. He writes and presents
the book programme Phil The Shelfon BBC Radio Wales.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.