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Tuesday 19 October 2021

‘Ring of Guilt’ by Judith Cutler

Published by Severn House,
6 October 2010.
ISBN: 978-0-7278-6960-9

Returning from an auction with a van load of delicate china, the sight of a body lying in a field in the middle of nowhere poses a dilemma for Lina Townsend. Just recently, a friend had found themselves in just such a situation and being a good Samaritan had leapt out of their van to assist and been laid flat out in the road and robbed, so Lina opts for caution and decides to stay put and ring the boys in blue.  Unfortunately, being in the middle of nowhere she has no signal on her mobile and ends up driving further on to obtain one.   Requested by the police to return to the scene, she does so, but the body has gone. The police were less than happy.

Later examining a box of miscellaneous items with her business partner and surrogate father Griff, Lina discovers an unusual ring. Griff thinks that it might be medieval and suggests asking his friend at the British Museum if he can date it. When later at an antiques fair Lina finds another ring of similar design, she sends that one also to Sir Douglas Nelson. Within a short time Lina is being given the third degree by DS Will Kinnersley of the Kent Police.

Between the missing body and the mysterious two rings, Lina’s life is far from dull. Also, adding interest is her biological father Lord Eltham, who resides in a wing of Bossington Hall, his former home now owned by the National Trust. Lord Eltham is possibly my favourite character being mainly interested in a regular supply of champagne with which Lina keep him supplied by selling off the antiques which he managed to squirrel way before the trustees realised. It’s been good to see their relationship slowly developing.

Lina takes on some renovation work on a china jug on behalf of Harvey Sandition who it appears has more than china on his mind. Turning up unexpectedly is ex-love interest Detective Sergeant Morris, but methinks Lina has turned her attention towards Detective Sergeant Will Kinnersely, or has she? – Harvey is very attentive.

In the marvellous mix of characters that Judith Cutler has created around Lina we meet again Mrs Walker, who takes to fairs like a duck to water, and the unscrupulous Titus Oates, although Titus has some surprises in store in this episode.

I enjoyed the scams and personalities that make up the world of antique fairs, and there are many twists and turns in the story that kept this reader turning pages.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

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 seven 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 seven books in this series. There are three books featuring Tobias Campion set in the Regency period, and her series featuring Chief Superintendent Fran Harman (6 books), and Jodie Welsh, Rector’s wife and amateur sleuth. Her more recently a series feature a head teacher Jane Cowan (3 books). Judith has also written three standalone’s Staging Death, Scar Tissue, and Death In Elysium. Her new series is set in Victorian times featuring Matthew Rowsley. Death’s Long Shadow is the third book in this series.

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