Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
Judith Cutler is quite a lady. She has created five feisty ladies of her own in five different series, Chief Superintendent Fran Harman, Sophie Rivers, Josie Welford, Detective Sergeant Kate Powers and Lina Townend. A sixth series stars the memorable Parson Tobias Campion. In Silver Guilt Lina Townend makes a welcome reappearance as the young, sparky, antiques specialist whose nose for her job leads her into dangerous waters.
Her professional partner is the elderly and gay Griff, with whom she has a loving father-and-daughter relationship. Her real father is a different kettle of fish. The eccentric Lord Elham lives in one disorganised wing of a Kentish historic mansion, the rest of which is run by a trust. The whole house is stuffed full of priceless objects, the difference being that in Lord Elham’s wing they are disregarded and uncared for – except by Lina, that is. She is regularly commissioned by her father to spot the goodies and sell them on his behalf for ready money. When Lina discovers a blackened and unloved silver plate her nose tells her it’s good, and Griff agrees. The downside is that the best place to sell it quickly is at an antiques fair that Lina does not want to attend, chiefly because she would be temporarily in charge of the stall run by Griff’s lover’s formidable sister Lady Petronella Cordingly.
Lina is right to be wary. The plate is spotted by all sorts of people, some straight, some definitely not straight. As Lina tries to sort out who is and who isn’t, she enters the danger fields of the antiques trade. Whom can she trust? Can she even trust the police?
Judith Cutler is adept at keeping her readers turning the pages, and Silver Gilt, narrated by Lina in her witty and engaging style, is no exception. Lina dashes from one hazard to another and – I hope – just as speedily from this novel to her next.