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THE SMILE OF A GHOST by Phil Rickman

THE SMILE OF A GHOST

By Phil Rickman

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 1-4050-5169-8
Publisher: Macmillan UK/Trafalgar

Rap twice if you believe in ghosts.

Saddled with Siân Callaghan-Clarke and Nigel Saltash, an ambitious cleric and a publicity-hound psychiatrist recently appointed advisors to her office, Anglican vicar Merrily Watkins is wary of helping out retired copper Andy Mumford, who comes to her in despair when his nephew Robbie plunges from a tower of Ludlow Castle and Robbie’s grandmother insists she sees her grandson’s ghost. When another youngster catapults from the castle and granny winds up face down in the river, Merrily and Mumford must decide whether young Robbie committed suicide to unite with his 12th-century love Marian de La Bruyère or was murdered. Mumford focuses on a gang of Robbie’s druggie tormentors while Merrily and her musician lover Lol watch eccentric Belladonna, a rock star turned town benefactor, who often wanders the Ludlow cobblestones in the company of Robbie and Jonathan Scole, founder of the local Ghost Walk. The cryptic Belladonna is the bane of fusty mayor George Lackland, whose son wants to marry Belladonna’s stepdaughter.

A paean to Welsh border history and its spirits that will undoubtedly put Ludlow Castle on many to-see lists. Nor is Rickman (The Prayer of the Night Shepherd, 2004, etc.) any slouch when it comes to contemporary church politics, Internet chat rooms or village rumor mills.