Linscott, Gillian - 'Blood on the Wood' (Unabridged Audiobook) read by Lin Sagovsky
BLOOD ON THE WOOD is the eleventh and latest (or last?) book to be written in the Nell Bray series. The series moves around in time so that for example, ABSENT FRIENDS, written in 1999, is set over a decade later than this book, written in 2003.
Nell is a suffragette and her movement has been left a painting by Philomena Venn, which proves to be fairly valuable. Nell is sent to the Venn family home in the Cotswolds to collect the painting from Philomena's husband Oliver. There she meets one of their nephews, Adam and his future sister-in-law Felicia. The meeting goes well and Nell returns to London with the painting in tow. It's only when she gets the painting to Christie's that she realises she's been had. The painting is a replica and one that Oliver Venn had commissioned recently.
Nell is sent back to collect the real painting by any means necessary and that is how she is caught stealing the painting in the dead of night. The theft would have gone well if there hadn't been a dead woman's body sticking out of a cabinet in the study.
Nell gets herself further involved in the investigation, to seek justice for the dead woman and also to clear Daniel, the Venns' other nephew who had just announced his engagement to the dead woman in a misguided attempt to save her from her lecherous uncle. Daniel is soon the prime suspect for the murder as he is lying to protect his other fiancee, Felicia who had been found with a gun earlier in the day that the body was found.
BLOOD ON THE WOOD is a traditional whodunit with a body found in a country house and a limited pool of suspects with various members of the household covering up for the person they think did it. Nell travels back and forth, between town and country, seeking out witnesses and finally getting to the bottom of it all, though what she finds out is quite surprising.
Equally as interesting as the murder mystery is the splendid evocation of an era where women are still fighting for the vote, where you can get anywhere by train - the country must have been covered in railway lines - and where village shops rely on supplies being delivered by a horse and cart.
The narration by Lin Sagovsky is first-class. She has a wide range of voices for the different characters and conveys Nell's earnestness with warmth. She has previously narrated two other Nell Bray books: DEAD MAN'S MUSIC and THE PERFECT DAUGHTER (winner of the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger in 2000).
Karen Meek, England