As many readers know, I give a lot of talks in libraries and other venues with my husband, Edward Marston – we're Murder, Ancient and Modern. We're never surprised when someone asks where we get our ideas from. I'll let you into a secret: it's not Tesco and it's not a tree at the bottom of our garden. Sometimes it's something we read in the paper; sometimes it's a picture or a piece of music that triggers our imagination. In the case of Green and Pleasant Land it was a nightmare that had me waking in the night calling out and sweating in fear. In my dream I had two children in a car, one a sick baby in a child seat, the other a toddler demanding to be let out of the car for a wee. And the toddler wondered off…
This sixth entry in the Fran Harman series (after Double Fault, 2014) is another solid British police procedural notable for the unspoken understanding and banter between the two principals as they play to each other's strengths. It's a pleasure to see vibrant retirees in starring roles. Booklist
The scene lingered in my mind for years. Then, when Fran Harman and Mark Turner needed a cold case to investigate, I realised I could use it. I wanted to set the novel away from Kent, just to make things more difficult for them, and decided on somewhere I'd spent some happy days when I was a child, the Bewdley area of Worcestershire. When I came to update my memories of the area, I managed to find one bright Saturday during a long and miserable spell of rain for a trip to my old haunts. Then it rained some more. A lot more. Soon great swathes of the country were under water. So why not factor floods into Fran and Mark's investigation, just to make life even harder for them?
I needed a possible murderer who could leave the area without arousing suspicion: a footballer, perhaps. The management of club I've supported all my life, West Bromwich Albion, were incredibly helpful, allowing me to go on a backstage tour with the charming and enormously knowledgeable chair of the supporters' club, Alan Cleverley. The only thing they couldn't arrange was a triumphant home win - but Baggies supporters are used to that, I'm afraid, and are just grateful when their team scrapes together enough points to stay in the Premier League.
A cold case was a new venture for me: I'd really welcome your feedback.
I like this couple's investigative techniques and the way their shared knowledge leads them to new conclusions. They make a great team for work and a great couple, too. I enjoy reading this series. Netgalley.com
Severn House Publishers Ltd
First World Publication edition:
31 December 2014
Green and Pleasant Land is the perfect book for readers who enjoy the intelligence and wit of a well-written British procedural. I will definitely be seeking out more books by Judith Cutler.
Fran and Mark are as likeable and capable as they were in their last adventure.
Kirkus Review of Books