Book Review: Green and Pleasant Land by Judith Cutler

Green and Pleasant LandGreen and Pleasant Land
A Fran Harman Mystery #6
Judith Cutler
Severn House, April 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8465-7

Irony, conspiracy, anger, abuse and police corruption, judiciously blended with persistent bad weather. What more can regular readers of British crime fiction expect or desire? Author Cutler is an experienced successful author with many solid novels to her credit so readers will expect and receive everything a well-conceived examination of a water-soaked community, West Mercia, in Northern England will entail.

Two former cops with sterling records, Fran Harman and her husband, Mark Turner, now retired from the active police service are called north to help a newly conjoined police force in clearing out their old unsolved cases. In this instance, it’s the disappearance of a popular member of the community, married to an even better known footballer. Ten years earlier, Natalie Foreman, mother of two boys, and wife of star striker Phillip Foreman, disappeared, leaving behind in her sedan beside the roadway, one dead son. Her body and that of her other son, Hadrian, are never found. Foul weather hampered the search. Hence the case is still open.

Fran and Mark are disconcerted to discover, upon arrival, per their contract, that there are forces arrayed against them, some blatant, others more subtle and thus more dangerous. They have to sort through a lot of stuff including personal attacks to solve the mystery.

The writing is excellent, smooth and consistently logical. The opening prologue is like a sock in the gut. Character development is also excellent with some interesting and unusual characters, scenes are well-tended and the narrative is tightly secured.

The novel moves well, although there are instances toward the end which seem a bit convenient and somewhat hurried. Still, a reader is left to contemplate a nicely presented turn of moral complication at the end. And a reader would ponder long over whether to move to reside in such a green and unpleasant land.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2015.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.