Why did I think this was a good idea to read? Well, it's set in countryside near where my mother lived for many years, and also where some of my ancestors came from. It had good reviews on Amazon, it was cheap, and I fancied some fiction. Time for some crime.
Perhaps you know Merrily Watkins, she's a decendant of Alfred Watkins, who invented 'ley lines' - Mrs Watkins - bit of a problem here? No? perhaps she married her cousin. Or perhaps, after the tragic death of her husband she reverted to her maiden name - but then why Mrs? I acknowledge, I haven't read any of Rickman's other books, so perhaps this is explained elsewhere, but this is the kind of thing that tends to niggle in my mind while I'm reading.
I don't read a lot of fiction, possibly because these kind of niggles irritate and jar in my mind - I don't tend to flow over them, they leave a 'niggle mark' in my mind.
Watkins is an Anglican Vicar in Ledwardine. She's exactly the kind of vicar everyone wants, kind, putting herself out, going beyond the requirements of the job. Giving time, sympathy, support. She also smokes, swears and sleeps with her boyfriend, who is a tortured, but brilliant, musician.
Overall this was OK, not great, but OK. It entertained, despite the niggles and the plot holes. When you read crime fiction you have to suspend disbelief, you have to accept that the trail of deaths described is possible. You have to ignore the flimsy reasons given. I know that powerful and respected people do hire hit men (think Jeremy Thorpe), but given the popularity of this trope in crime fiction you would think that there is no-one left to 'hit'.
I won't give too much away, although the plot centres around archaelogists and the 'Rotherwas Ribbon' - a unique archaeological feature in Herefordshire. There are archaeologists and atheists - who are generally treated sympathetically, despite the heroine being a member of the clergy. There is also a fundamentalist, who is treated somewhat less sympathetically.
What does seem nonsensical is the heroine's daughter, a pagan, who wants to be an archaeologist. She doesn't seem to practice any pagan rites (or not in this book), but wants to become an archaeologist because of 'ley lines' and the magical faerie world of ancient sites. What? Is this some kind of female Indiana Jones working with magical archaeology? At some point someone says that if you take away the magic you end up with a few bones and pot shards. No, sorry, that is not what makes archaeology interesting. It's the peeling away of layers of history, finding out what REALLY happened, how people REALLY lived. Not yet another neo-mystical idea of something for which there is no evidence.
I know it's a story... but... Perhaps it's time to go and read some real archaeology. To be honest, I used to be interested in this kind of thing. Not any more, I came to realise it isn't scientifically supportable.
6/10 - wouldn't bother to read it again, wouldn't bother to read another in the series, but not a complete waste of time. At least I got to hear about the Rotherwas Ribbon.