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    Review of BLOOD ON THE WOOD by Gillian Linscott


    St. Martin's Minotaur, May 2004

    It started with a painting. When a dying suffragette leaves a painting to the 'movement,' activist Nell Bray is sent down to the Cotswolds in rural England to pick it up. The suffragette's family tries to foist off a counterfeit and Nell end up cast into an adventure that starts with a plot to steal the real painting--and ends up with broken engagements and murder. Everyone in the Venn family seems to be hiding something. At first, Nell is willing to believe that they are simply trying to protect the fiancee--but could their motives be darker? Could her revolutionary acquaintance, Harry Hawthorne be right that the family was willing to kill to protect their property--and kill again if necessary?

    Set in the early twentieth century when woman's suffrage is still a distant hope, when revolutionary socialists are filled with hope for the worker's utopia, and when women still need to be concerned about their social standing and their chances of being 'ruined,' BLOOD ON THE WOOD is a strangely powerful mystery. Nell Bray is an entertainingly complex character--hard-working for suffrage but realistic enough to know that it will take time and compromise. Her moral dilemma over how much to tell the police rings true. Author Gillian Linscott does a fine job depicting those turbulant times and the characters who lived through them. The suspects--song-hunting dilitante, Daniel; widower Oliver; jilted fiancee Felicia; and too-clever lawyer Adam are all worth looking at--all have motives, all could have benefitted through murder.

    If you're looking for a cerebrial mystery with a charming early-twentieth century setting, BLOOD ON THE WOOD is a can't miss opportunity. I enjoyed this one a lot.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 6/17/04

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