Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Judith Cutler

Judith Cutler is a prolific U.K.-based crime novelist. Among her books are five main series of crime novels featuring Chief Superintendant Fran Harman, Josie Welford, Tobias Campion, Detective Sergeant Kate Power and Sophie Rivers respectively.

Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I’ve been finishing a book of my own recently, so reading other people’s books, no matter how enticing, has had to be put on hold. However, before I start my next novel, I’ve escaped from the computer to read:

Prison: Five Hundred Years Behind Bars
Edward Marston
National Archive, 2009

Reading this was actually a labour of love, since it was written by my husband, and I sneaked a look at the proof stage. Those of you who know his historical crime fiction will know the depth and breadth of his meticulous research. Here, drawing on files at the National Archives, he addresses himself to a scholarly but intensely readable history of prisons and their effects on the people they confine. It begins in medieval times when gaols were often located in castles or gatehouses and when their function was simply to detain prisoners until their trial. It was only centuries later that imprisonment was itself the punishment – and in general a far worse punishment than the crime merited. Thank goodness for reformers like Elizabeth Fry. Read and ponder what we can do to our fellow human beings in the name of justice.

Coming Back to Me
Marcus Trescothick
Harper Sport, 2008

I doubt if many US readers have heard of Marcus Trescothick, since he plays cricket, which once used to be the US national sport before it was eclipsed by baseball, back in the early twentieth century. Much of what Trescothick writes might mean even less to you than a baseball star’s autobiography would mean to me. However, what all too many of us are acquainted with is depression, the illness that afflicted Trescothick so badly he had to retire prematurely from international cricket. Although the current economic climate may well find many more people suffering from it, and even talking publicly about it, it is currently not often thought a problem that “real men” experience. And they certainly don’t wash their dirty linen in public! This is why Trescothick’s is such a brave book. Alongside the reports of the wonderful games in which he brilliantly participated sits the account of his nemesis, the black and fathomless depths of despair to which depression can reduce anyone – regardless of bank balance, education, class, colour and creed. His openness about the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and ultimate acceptance of the illness is as heroic as any innings he played for his country.

I followed up that with:

Dead Men’s Footsteps
Peter James
Macmillan, 2008

One of a series featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, based in Brighton, Sussex, this is predictably deeply researched, elegantly written, fiendishly plotted and impossible to put down. The real action begins on 9/11, with the results of one man’s actions on seeing the fall of the Twin Towers affecting many others. This is a blend of superior thriller and exceptionally detailed police procedural. I guarantee that if you haven’t read the others in the series you soon will.

And now back to the computer…
Visit Judith Cutler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue