Thursday, 1 October 2009

Review:- Judith CUTLER – “Shadow of the Past”

Publ: 2008
Pensby Library
ISBN: 978-0-7490-7941-3
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 346p
Found by Serendipity
Rating: ***** *****

What led you to pick up this book?
The cover; the blurb and the Reviews.

Describe the plot without giving anything away.

The body of a stranger is found in the parish of Midland Parson Tobias Campion during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Could he be the missing heir to the local estate? Tonias and his good friend the local Doctor set out to investigate. Their search for the truth behind the man’s death takes them to London and Devon but it is in his own parish that Campion feels most comfortable.

What did you think of the characters and style?

The characters are well drawn and the plot is excellent but it is the style which makes this book stand out so well from similar works in this genre. Historical novels tend to go one of two ways. The first sort use present day language and leave one never feeling the author never quite got into the era he or she is writing about. The second rely heavily on words from the era and send one to a glossary or a dictionary every few pages. Occasionally one gets a brilliant writer like Cutler who manages to use the words from that era constantly and yet the context nearly always makes the meaning clear and the flow of one’s reading is in no way interrupted This is skill!.

What did you like most about the book?
The style, the plot, the characters... in other words; the lot!

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?

Thoughts on the book jacket / cover.

Would I recommend it?
Yes, very much so.

Totally irrelevant side note:

I am bemused. I felt that I had come across Tobias Campion before and I was sure I had read her previous book about him – “The Keeper of Secrets”. But it is not on my reading list. Did I read it in 2007 (its year of publication) – immediately prior to starting this blog? Or did I read it more recently and fail to record it?

JUDITH CUTLER was born in the Midlands in 1946, and revels in using her birthplace, with its rich cultural life, as a background for her novels. After a long stint as an English lecturer at a run-down college of further education, Judith, a prize-winning short-story writer, has taught Creative Writing at Birmingham University, has run occasional writing course elsewhere (from a maximum security prison to an idyllic Greek island) and ministered to needy colleagues in her role as Secretary of the Crime Writers' Association.

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