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Publisher's Summary

Merrily Watkins, parish priest, single mother, and Deliverance Consultant, heads for the Malvern Hills to investigate an alleged paranormal dimension to a spate of road accidents. A revamped local pub has injected the valley with a shattering surge of inner-city nightlife and drugs. When a dealer is found savagely murdered below the great earthen hillfort of Herefordshire Beacon, police wonder if it is a gangland disposal, a cry of outrage - or something more sinister. Merrily and the police follow separate paths towards the truth until, on a night of frenzied violence, in a place at the centre of an ancient mystery, the final, shocking connections are made.
©2006 Phil Rickman; (P)2007 Isis Publishing Ltd

Critic Reviews

"First rate. A passionate, flawed modern woman, every bit as concerned with the intricacies of crime as with demons that go bump in the night." (Daily Mail)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Performance
  • Story

Disappointing

I have listened to the other two Rickman titles narrated by Emma Powell and loved them. They were so absorbing from the beginning that I couldn't wait to find more time to listen. This one started out like that, and Ms Powell does her usual great job of characterizing voices, but this novel just wanders around aimlessly. None of the novels are heavy on the supernatural, but this one really doesn't focus on it at all. There is some suspicion of supernatural activity, but no more than one might find in any novel since it is never pursued. I was about to write a sentence about what this novel is mainly about, only to find out that I don't really know. The most interesting tangent is that dealing with ley lines, or as Jane prefers, Leys. But that storyline is abandoned for long periods.

Several times, I thought the book was over, only to look and find out that there were still several hours remaining. At this point, I have a bit over two hours left, I and just don't care anymore. I doubt that I will finish in spite of how much I love listening to Ms Powell read.

If you enjoy the Rickman novels, do yourself a favor and skip this one. It has soured me on him for a while.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Pretty boring

I tried to give this book a chance and listened well into the second half. It's really boring and nothing is really happening so I'm just giving up. These characters are just sort of wandering around this town trying to gather information about this possibly paranormal event but that's about it. Really a very boring book and only nominally paranormal. It's mostly about the politics of a small town rather than anything supernatural. Also, the narrator does a TERRIBLE American accent.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lesley
  • West Kempsey, Australia
  • 04-07-09

Entertaining

I purchased this after listening to 'Cure of Souls' by the same author. I preferred my first purchase to 'Remains of an Altar'. 'Remains' was well padded and there were times I just wanted to say 'oh get on with it... get to the point'. Not a bad listen, entertaining in fact, but, predictable and not as fast and thought provoking as 'Cure'. The reader for 'Remains' did a much better job than she did for 'Cure' so I guess what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Different but good!

I was pleasantly surprised at how well written this was. Interesting storyline and colorful characters. Keeps you interested and satisfying ending. Solid 4 stars, not 5. Expect great things from the author in the future. Listen and Enjoy!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

counldn't finish listening

What would have made The Remains of an Altar better?

The voice of the murderer guy was so annoying I couldn't listen to the last 5th of the book.

Would you ever listen to anything by Phil Rickman again?

yes

How did the narrator detract from the book?

some of the voices she does for men sound gross and flemmy.

  • Overall
  • Catherine
  • Potsdam, NY, United States
  • 09-21-09

Modern tale of paranormal

I loved this one. A good read that kept me involved and listening... I feel that a sign of a good writer and story is when you as the reader simply want to throttle one of their characters. I needed to remind myself every so often that the character in question was simply that... a character... not a real person. If you like British series like Midsommer Murders, then you may very well like this book.

  • Overall
  • Robyn
  • North Ryde, Australia
  • 11-23-08

Another great listen

I first met Merrily Watkins through these audio books and have enjoyed listening to the stories going to and from work. I particularly enjoy the development of the main characters, Merrily and Jane, and I love the descriptions of the Hertfordshire countryside. The narrator does admirably with the variety of accents required to present these characters well.

  • Overall

Burns like a low flame

Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series are wonderful
stories, and this one is no exception. Slow to start,
but has lots of character development and just enough
mystery, ethical dilemmas and supernatural undertones to be interesting yet completely believable. Emma Powell does a brilliant job at voice characterizations, far better than the other
narrator of the series available here on Audible. I was so impressed after hearing this and Midwinter of the Spirit, I bought the whole series. I hope Audible will have more of this series available, especially if read by Emma Powell.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not Quite

The topic is interesting, but it gets crushed by all the meandering. I found it quite disjointed.

AUDIO: This reader is impossible to understand. Her voice has a furry, mushy quality. And she will pronounce some words differently each time she uses them, even when speaking from the same character. For example, her boyfriend is Law, Lor, Lahl, Lah, Lau, and Loh and I don't know what all else. I still have no idea which is right, if any. She also lacks that talent to distinguish between the speaker's thinking vs. her out-loud speaking.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • A. Watson
  • 09-05-07

Land of Dope and Gory

?The Remains of an Altar' is the eighth in the Merrily Watkins series, and finds our favourite Vicar investigating ghostly sightings of the composer, Elgar. Things become complicated by the ritual slaying of a local drugs dealer and daughter Jane imposes her own brand of chaos into the mix (with a helping hand from Gomer) by taking on the council to prevent an ancient Ley (line) from being destroyed. As always, Rickman?s writing is eerily atmospheric and has a distinct `sense of place' - and traces of the dark folklore that once served him so well can still be found embedded deep in the background static of the novel. This is a great book, full of twists and unexpected drops into darkness - peppered throughout with sharp humour and self effacing irony.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • monica
  • 04-11-13

The Remains of an Altar

I have tried many times to listen to this book but it fails to hold my attention

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Adam Delderfield
  • 05-03-17

Hooked on Merrily Watkins series!

Initially I was not too sure about the voices put on by the narrator. Now after listening to two of these books by the same narrator and being totally drawn in by the characters in this series I am hooked and think the narration fits perfectly. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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  • Performance
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  • Gabrielle Harvey-Jones
  • 03-28-16

Love these books!

Not one of his best (in my opinion!) but still an enjoyable listen. I love the various different characters and how they all develop as the series progresses! Enjoy Emma Powell's reading of them!

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  • Kim
  • 01-10-16

Not really interested in Elgar

I've read all of this series to this point - and enjoyed every book. But they seem to be becoming more and more about music. Unfortunately I like music but not with a passion. I struggled to keep interest in this book because it's for music lovers. I'm just not interested in Elgar or hymns or breaking down music. I honestly only finished it so that I could read the next book without missing any essential plot changes. I love these books, and the Characters ( though I now wish Lol wasn't a musician ha ha) and Emma Powells reading was wonderful as ever. The book subject just held no interest for me. If love music and Elgar you'll love it.

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  • Bonita N. Jones
  • 01-07-17

Didn't see that bullet coming

The best one yet. So many twists and turns. Starting the next one right now.