Meet Jodie Welsh. After a successful career when she has earned more money that she knows what to do with, she astonishes herself by falling in love and marrying Theo, a vicar in Lesser Hogben, a village in Kent. As she works out how to be a vicar’s wife, she finds herself in a village that is struggling to survive in the modern world and sets her mind to helping out.
However, there are strange goings on in the village and when a young man who Jodie has taken under her wing disappears, she suspects the worse. And when a body turns up, things begin to take a turn for the worse. What exactly is being built on nearby land? How far is someone willing to go to keep their secrets? And is Jodie at risk as well?
Judith Cutler is not an author that I’ve come across before, despite the fact that she has written over thirty crime novels before this one, starting out in 1995. I spotted this one on NetGalley as the first in a series so I thought I’d give it a try.
It’s a great read – the character of Jodie leaps off the page. She’s a great creation and her story, as she finds her place in the village, is an entertaining read. The intrigue and level of threat buzzes nicely in the background and slowly builds to a head. While some characters verge on the stereotype – the village traditionalist who fights any change, the school drop-outs who are just misunderstood – Cutler fills them with enough life not to make this an issue.
Mystery wise, it does all fall a bit flat towards the end as the villain doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone – indeed, they are suspected long before the “reveal” – and I’m pretty sure that the building project couldn’t happen without being investigated by the authorities.
What’s impressive about the writing and the characters that they were entertaining enough that I didn’t care about the disappointment in the mystery, which says a lot. I’ll certainly be hunting out more from Judith Cutler. Any recommendations?