INTRODUCING MERRILY Merrily Watkins, parish priest, single mother, exorcist, works for the Diocese of Hereford in a remote village on the border of England and Wales. Like many men and women doing an essentially medieval job in an increasingly secular society, she's never certain how much she can permit herself to believe. It doesn't help that she sometimes has to work with psychiatrists and the police. Or that her employer, the Church of England, is far from free of prejudice, sexism, greed and corruption. Or that Merrily's teenage daughter is more interested in paganism than the priesthood. No wonder she smokes. No wonder she occasionally lapses into language hard to find in the Bible. THE SECRETS OF PAIN The elite warriors of the Hereford-based SAS know all about pain and the enduring of it. Syd Spicer, ex-SAS trooper, has found himself back the Regiment - this time as its chaplain, responsible for the spiritual welfare of the hardest men in or out of uniform. Faced with a case which would normally be passed discreetly to Hereford diocesan exorcist Merrily Watkins, Spicer is forced, for security reasons, to try and handle it himself... and is coming close to a breakdown. Meanwhile, the scattered communities along the Welsh border have their own crisis. With recession biting deep, urban crime has spilled into the countryside and old barbaric evils are revived. When a wealthy landowner is hacked to death in his own farmyard, the senior investigating officer, DI Frannie Bliss is caught in the backlash, his private life in danger of exposure. With the framework of her own world beginning to crack, Merrily Watkins is persuaded to venture into areas where neither a priest nor a woman is welcome... to unearth secrets linked with the border's pagan past. Secrets which she knows can never be disclosed.