Before I received an ARC of this novel I am ashamed to say that I had never even heard of author Judith Cutler. After reading Green and Pleasant Land I wonder how- I now want to read all the others from the series!
Retired police detective Fran Harman discovers that someone doesn’t like her digging up the past when she re-opens a 20-year-old cold case.
Newly-retired, ex-Chief Superintendent Fran Harman and her partner Mark have volunteered to assist West Mercia police in reinvestigating an unsolved crime. Twenty years ago, a car was found abandoned on an isolated road running through the Wyre Forest, its hazard lights still flashing, the passenger door open. In the back, were two child seats. One was empty; in the other lay a desperately ill baby. Neither the baby’s mother nor the elder child were ever seen again.
Where had Natalie Foreman been and where was she heading? As they question those who knew the missing woman, Fran and Mark uncover worrying discrepancies and mistaken assumptions underlying the original police investigation. In their new role as civilians in a police world, they find themselves encountering hostility and resentment from some of those they question – and it’s clear that more than one key witness is not telling them the whole truth.
Green and Pleasant Land is a fantastic novel full of intriguing people and puzzling situations. This is the first novel I’d read by Judith Cutler so I started it completely unaware of what to expect!
The story is really well written and never seems rushed; it moves along at a great pace without being confusing and the author teases the reader with little clues here and there, most of which I completely missed until I looked back after reading the ending! The detail about police procedures is really interesting and I really love novels about cold cases- there’s something about characters delving into an old, unsolved mystery that really intrigues me.
The plot is intricate and absorbing- as are the characters; Fran is entertaining and her relationship with Mark is great! Flat or 2D characters can completely ruin an otherwise great novel so I’m really pleased that Cutler seems to skilled at creating likeable, interesting characters.
There are a few references to fairly recent real-life people or cases, such as Madeleine McCann, and this added an extra element of realism to the story which can often be absent from fiction.
Green and Pleasant Land is an intelligent, thought- provoking book that left me wanting to read more by Judith Cutler, and wondering why I’ve never read any of her previous novels (there are 5 of her previous novels in the Fran Harman series alone!)
Thank you to the publisher Severn House Publishers for providing an advance reading copy of this novel for an honest review.
Green and Pleasant Land is out now in hardback and out in paperback June 2015.
Have you read any of the Fran Harman series, or any others by Judith Cutler?