Jodie Welsh

(creator: Judith Cutler)

Judith Cutler
Jodie Welsh is the millionaire wife of a country vicar, Rev Theo Walsh. After gaining a doctorate at Imperial College, she had studied for an MBA at Harvard while the little IT company she had set up grew bigger and bigger until she was able to sell it for a large amount. She went on to work as a highly paid IT consultant so that by her 50th birthday, she was able to buy "a better Porsche". When she found herself unemployed, she was so well off that she knew she need never work again.

She had enjoyed a number of "fleeting but highly enjoyable flirtations" before she met widower Theo Walsh with whom she fell "gobstackingly in love". At the start of the book, she had been married to him for two months and was settling down to life in the pictureque Kentish village of Lesser Hogden, from where he was responsible for "seven or eight" churches.

Judith Cutler (1946 - ) has published over twenty contemporary novels, including two detective series set in Birmingham. She has also written prizewinning short stories. The Keeper of Secrets was her first historical crime novel, although her historical short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies all over the world.

She was born in the Black Country in England, and later moved to Birmingham. She read English at Birmingham University, then went on to teach full-time at an inner city Further Education College until her first novel was published in 1995. She subsequently taught Creative Writing at the Continuing Studies Department at Birmingham University, and elsewhere. She is married, with one son, and lives in Kent. She aims to write two books a year. Also see Rev Tobias Campion.

Death in Elysium (2014)
Death in Elysium sees city career woman, now vicar's wife, Jodie Welsh getting embroiled in local church and village politics. As a newcomer, Jodie encounters hostility and disapproval from several of the villagers, particularly in her efforts to engage and assist Lesser Hogben's disaffected youth, including18 year old Burble whom she employs in her garden and later entrusts with her highly expensive camera. He goes missing but she does not worry about the camera as she can easily replace it. She happily uses her own funds and contacts to offer help wherever needed, even finding a proper job for a local drug dealer.

At first this makes an amusing and easy to read story and it is not until page130 (out of 220) that a dead body appears. The plot that develops involving strange and sinister large scale construction work at a building "sight" (sic) in Elysian Fields proves less interesting and altogether less convincing.

Jodie makes a highly unlikely vicar's wife when she whisks her husband off every Monday evening to her St John's Wood pad from where they are able to spend the whole of the next day enjoying themselves in London, with no parish duties to trouble them. But then the whole story is set in an escapist fantasy world that it is fun to read about and enlivened by a nice sense of humour, as when Jodie, who is the narrator throughout, tells us that she was "showered and perky after my favourite morning exercise with Theo."

Sometimes it is not very obvious what is happening, as when Jodie arrives at the rectory to find the area around it "full of blue flashing lights". There is no description of it actually being set on fire. Similarly there is no description of Theo rescuing a woman held prisoner. We just hear about it afterwards. Perhaps this is a consequence of using Jodie as the narrator but one suspects the author's strong point lies in gentle comedy rather than in dramatic action. Certainly the best parts of this story are those concerned with village life rather than criminal activity.

Judith Cutler has her own website.

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The cover is quite striking even if the word Elysium never appears in the text, although the words Elysian Fields do.

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