Available from Allison and Busby.
‘Drawing the Line’ is the first of a series of six books about Lina Townend, wild foster child turned restorer of antiques, living and working with the kindly, grandfatherly Griff (resting actor turned antique dealer). Yes, Dear Reader, crime fiction again. Lina, although very happy with Griff, still feels the need to find her own family. Chancing, at an antiques fair, upon the front piece of a rare book, Naturum Rerum, which she remembers from childhood, she uses it to seek out the place where she read it and, she hopes, her natural father, but, because the book is so valuable, she sets in train a series of burglaries and violent assaults. The storyline is involved and at times unclear, with some important points glossed over in a few sentences, such as the identity of the stallholder referred to as ‘the man from Devon’, and occasionally stretching the limits of probability too far, with Robin the curate appearing in his car every time Lina needs him to be there. However, I didn’t mind any of this because the characters are all likeable, believable and well-defined and the story has pace and a real ‘feel good’ factor. People ‘change sides’ throughout, tempted by the proceeds of crime or, in one character’s case, by ‘being a prat’. Lina doesn’t know who to trust – except Griff – and we readers are challenged, asked to change our minds about characters all the time. Lina herself makes one serious mistake about one baddy who turns out to be a goody. Only one person, Lina remarked, really was who and what he said he was.
The great thing about Lina is that, although she has a huge chip on her shoulder through being in care and is hardened and cynical, with an occasional tendency to lapse into a female Kevin, she is emotionally tough and resourceful. Lina will not let you down. Unusually for a character in fiction, she is sensible and well-organised. The story is written in the first person, from Lina’s point of view and in her distinctive voice. Judith’s knowledge of antiques and the antique business is thorough, with warm stories of camaraderie between dealers, their ways of working and their etiquettes.
‘Drawing the Line’ does not fit as a title for this book – what line, where, how? However, I would thoroughly recommend it and am ready to read the other five books about Lina Townend. However, I now have the delightful duty of reading several books written by friends, starting with ‘Destiny’s Rebel’ by Philip S Davies and to be followed by ‘Mortal Fire’ by C F Dunn. As well as reading, this week, I’ve cleared out the filing cabinet containing all our family paperwork, something which hadn’t been done for at least twenty years. Dear Reader, it has taken me three whole days, and left me feeling more physically worked out than if I’d taken proper exercise, you know, the sort you pay for at the gym. I’ve also managed to pull a muscle/ trap a nerve at the top of my thigh (to put it politely). At the moment, I’m applying Deep Heat and a microwaveable wheat cushion; I really don’t feel I could ask a physiotherapist to massage my buttock. I’m sure sitting on a comfy chair with my laptop and writing will sort it out.