A rainy night in the cathedral city of Hereford. A grisly murder is linked by DI Francis Bliss with the campaign to preserve an ancient ritual site. And then Bliss is sidelined by his boss. What's going on?
In the village of Ledwardine, Merrily Watkins stands between an extreme fundamentalist Christian and an atheist writer known as 'The Devil's Spin Doctor'.
Tensions are rising… and so is the river. Soon Ledwardine will be isolated by floods, cut off with a killer inside - a new kind of killer for a cold new age.
Past and present collide with fatal results in British author Rickman's unsettling 10th mystery to feature parish priest Merrily Watkins (after 2008's The Fabric of Sin). A few days before Christmas, a body with a mutilated face turns up in a ruined monastery in the Herefordshire village of Ledwardine near the Welsh border. Also casting a pall over the holiday season are the threat of a flood and a contentious debate at a town meeting about whether to build a highway through a beloved meadow. Meanwhile, the unearthing of the ancient Dinedor Serpent, a prehistoric monument, leads Merrily's aspiring archeologist daughter, Jane, into dangerous territory. A newcomer to the village, an outspoken atheist despised by fundamentalists, adds fuel to a volatile mix. Amid the mayhem, Rickman skillfully weaves together the assorted subplots. Credible characters some down-to-earth, others lunatic and absorbing archeological lore are a plus.