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Wednesday 12 August 2015

‘Death in Elysium’by Judith Cutler

Published by Severn House,
26 June 2014. 
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8396-4

Vicar’s wife Jodie Welsh has been well warned against Burble, the youngster she’s had helping out in her garden. So when he disappears with her expensive camera, nobody else is surprised – until a body’s found.

This lively story of country skulduggery is narrated by Jodie herself. A former city high-flyer with a massive trust fund behind her, she was prepared for a change in lifestyle when she married the Reverend Theo Welsh, and her acerbic comments on the home comforts of the vicarage and the trials of village life provide a good deal of humour. However she’s determined to use her negotiating and managerial skills to make a difference to the village, particularly to the disaffected youngsters she sees around her. Local politics, the need to save the church, shop and post office, and mysterious digging works visible only from her favourite jogging spot join together to make a plot with plenty of twists, and a surprise perp who’s finally unmasked after a lot of action.

The characters were sympathetically drawn, the rural background convincing, and the story great fun – I particularly enjoyed Jodie’s ability to call in unexpected favours and use high-tech as a way of outwitting the villagers.

A hugely enjoyable read with a lively and unusual heroine.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Judith Cutler was born in the Black Country, just outside Birmingham, later moving to the Birmingham suburb of Harborne. Judith started writing while she was at the then Oldbury Grammar School, winning the Critical Quarterly Short Story prize with the second story she wrote. She subsequently read English at university. It was an attack of chickenpox caught from her son that kick-started her writing career. One way of dealing with the itch was to hold a pencil in one hand, a block of paper in the other - and so she wrote her first novel. This eventually appeared in a much revised version as Coming Alive, published by Severn House. Judith has five series. The first two featured amateur sleuth Sophie Rivers (10 books) and Detective Sergeant Kate Power (6 Books). Then came Josie Wells, a middle-aged woman with a quick tongue, and a love of good food, there are two books, The Food Detective and The Chinese Takeout. The Lina Townsend books are set in the world of antiques and there are five books in this series. There are two books featuring Tobias Campion set in the Regency period. Her most recent series features Chief Superintendent Fran Harman (6 books), and Jodie Welsh, Rector’s wife and amateur sleuth..  Judith has also written two standalone’s Scar Tissue and Staging Death.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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