Death in Elysium by Judith Cutler
Judith is an old hand at creating strong female leads to solve a variety of crimes. She’s written series featuring lecturers, caterers, antique dealers and resting actresses. Death in Elysium is her first novel to feature vicar’s wife, Jodie Welsh.
But Jodie isn’t your typical vicar’s wife. She accumulated her fortune working in the City and has been made redundant. She falls in love and marries Theo, a widower and parish priest with a small town lifestyle completely different to the London life that Jodie is used to. Adjusting to the role of vicar’s wife is not easy and the parishioners give her a mixed reception.
Jodie employs a local teenage ne’er do well, Burble, as her gardener. But Burble goes missing and Jodie discovers strange building work going on in a nearby valley. The mystery deepens as someone tries to mow Jodie down with a car and a church warden is knocked unconscious.
Jodie needs all her contacts and skills from her past life to work out what is going on …
I asked Judith to explain how Jodie Welsh came into being.
“My experience as a village-dweller and as a practising member of the C of E came together in Jodie. Brash new-comers aren’t always the most welcome people in Kentish villages, and clergy wives are under particular scrutiny, since they’re often supposed to conform to an unwritten set of rules – rules poor Jodie never even knew existed since her relationship with her husband is so new.”
Judith planted a few characteristics within Jodie that will ensure she can stay the course for a series of books.
“Jodie needed a quirk, in this case her love of running, which has the advantage of her being able to spot things others wouldn’t and to take to her heels when necessary. Since clergy aren’t bound to stay in the same parish forever, Jodie and Theo can move to other parts of the country and her private wealth can free Theo to work in areas which will bring new challenges for them both.”
Another aspect of Jodie’s life which I found intriguing was her tendency to compare herself unfavourably to Theo’s deceased wife. I wonder if her insecurities in this area will subside or grow as the series continues.
So, if you fancy getting to know Jodie (and seeing how an experienced author handles the first book in a new series) take a look at Death in Elysium. It’s available now in hardback and will be out as an e-book in October – or why not ask your local library if they can get hold of it for you?