Tried to pull together a synopsis of the plot for this novel but can’t do much better than the blurb:
Life isn’t easy for Detective Inspector Bobby Maiden. Death is even harder. When Maiden is revived in hospital after dying in a hit and run incident, his memories are not the familiar ones of bright lights and angelic music, only of a cold, harsh place he has no wish to revisit…ever. But his experience means that Bobby Maiden may be the only person who can reach The Green Man, a serial murderer the police don’t even know exists…a predator who returns to stone circles, burial mounds and ancient churches in the belief that he is defending Britain’s sacred heritage.
There is also an additional plot involving an American journalist, Grayle Underhill, who specialises in New Age matters and has arrived on the Welsh borders to find out what has happened to her sister who has gone missing after becoming involved in research around Stone Age mysteries.
And of course the two stories will inevitably come together.
Why did I want to read it?
I have read a few of Rickman’s early horror stories, and have most of his Merrily Watkins books though I’m working through those extraordinarily slowly. I hadn’t come across this one before until it appeared on Kindle, largely because it was originally written under a the pseudonym Will Kingdom. It sounded right up my street.
What did I think of it?
Gosh this was grim, but I have often found that with Rickman’s books even as (or perhaps because) he has moved away from pure horror into what the “About the Author” note calls “realistic crime with a subtle element of the paranormal.”
I personally consider this to be a mainly a horror novel; yes there’s a serial killer with a weird fixation but the supernatural element is so strong and certain scenes and events are so nasty (in a non-pejorative sense) that it gave me the creeps as only the best horror can; quite disturbing. As I’ve often found with his work the darkness of tone means I tend to read them over a fairly lengthy period of time in manageable chunks, and this was no exception though it’s fair to say that the experience is always rewarding as the novels are so well written, and in this case about two-thirds of the way into the book something clicked and I did another marathon staying up into the wee small hours to finish it.
So a strong story with flawed but believable characters and a very interesting serial killer whose identity I sort of guessed but not that far in advance of the protagonists so can’t claim much there. I will pick up others in this series and am also looking forward to dipping my toe into his series about John Dee, one of my favourite Elizabethans.
This was my fourth read for RIP IX and means I have met Peril the First!