Phil Rickman: The Cure of Souls (UK 2001)
From the Publisher:
The third chilling mystery for Rev. Merrily Watkins in her role as diocesan exorcist.
As high summer bakes the rich earth of north-east Herefordshire, dark shadows gather - quite literally - round a converted hopkiln where the last owner was savagely murdered. Though the local vicar dismisses claims by its current occupants that the place is haunted, their story is soon splashed over a Sunday newspaper - and Merrily Watkins is directed by the Bishop of Hereford to defuse this situation. Merrily, however, is already contending with a woman's claim that her adopted teenage daughter is possessed by an evil spirit. In both cases Merrily remains unconvinced but, in this summer of oppressive heat and sudden storms, nothing is ever quite what it seems. As she is drawn into a tangle of trickery, deceit, corruption and sexual menace, her hastily conducted exorcism produces unhappy results. With her career now on the line, she and her good friend Lol Robinson try desperately to uncover the secrets of Knight's Frome - a village concealing a past as twisted as the bines on the hop-plants once surrounding it.
There they discover how local history became entwined with the legacy and superstitions of the Romani gypsies who once harvested the hops. And it seems the Rom had long memories -- on both sides of the grave.
Phil Rickman: The Cure of Souls. The electrifying new Merrily Watkins Mystery. Macmillan, ISBN: 0333906233 (December, 2001), 485 p., £16.99.