Cutler, Judith 1946–
Cutler, Judith 1946–
PERSONAL: Born June 11, 1946, in West Bromwich, England; daughter of Reginald (a civil servant) and Gladys (a teacher; maiden name, Walker) Cutler; married David Williams, 1968 (divorced, 1996); children: Jonathan Richard. Ethnicity: "White European." Edu-cation: University of Birmingham, B.A. (with honors), 1967. Politics: Labour. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Music.
ADDRESSES: Home—Meadow View, The Street, Bossingham, Canterbury, Kent CT6 6DX, England. Agent—c/o Sara Menguc, 4 Hatch Place, Kinston on Thames, Surrey, KT2 5NB, England; c/o Shana Cohen, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, 381 Park Ave. S., Ste. 914, New York, NY 10016. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Matthew Boulton College, Birmingham, England, senior lecturer in English and creative writing, 1968–96; University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England, visiting lecturer, 1994–2001. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Benevolent Fund, member of board of trustees, 1985–2001; Birmingham Chamber Music Society, committee member, 1990–2001; West Midlands arts advisor, 1992–2001; member, with Edward Marston, of musical duo Murder, Ancient and Modern.
MEMBER: Crime Writers' Association (secretary), National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, Society of Authors, Lunar Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Short story contest winner, Critical Quarterly, c. 1963; short story competition winner, University of Birmingham and Endsleigh Insurance, 1994.
"SOPHIE RIVERS" SERIES: CRIME NOVELS
Dying Fall, Piatkus Books (London, England), 1995.
Dying to Write, Piatkus Books (London, England), 1996.
Dying on Principle, Piatkus Books (London, England), 1996.
Dying for Millions, Piatkus Books (London, England), 1997.
Dying for Power, Piatkus Books (London, England), 1998.
Dying to Score, Headline (London, England), 1999.
Dying by Degrees, Headline (London, England), 2000.
Dying by the Book, Headline (London, England), 2001.
Dying in Discord, Headline (London, England), 2002.
Dying to Deceive, Headline (London, England), 2003.
"KATE POWER" SERIES; CRIME NOVELS
Power on Her Own, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1998.
Staying Power, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1999.
Power Games, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2000.
Will Power, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2001.
Hidden Power, New English Library (London, England), 2002.
Coming Alive, Severn House (Sutton, Surrey, England), 2000.
Head over Heels, Severn House (Sutton, Surrey, England), 2001.
Scar Tissue, Alliston & Busby (London, England), 2004.
Drawing the Line, Alliston & Busby (London, England), 2004.
The Food Detective, Allison & Busby (London, England), 2005.
Life Sentence, Allison & Busby (London, England), 2005.
Contributor of short stories to periodicals, media broadcasts of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and many anthologies, including The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, Forge (New York, NY), 2004, Crime on the Move, So Not Press (London, England), 2005, and Thou Shalt Not Kill, Carroll and Graf (New York, NY), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Judith Cutler is the author of two successful mystery series, both set in Birmingham, England. Sophie Rivers is an amateur detective who shares many traits with her creator, including a love of classical music, cooking, and cricket. Kate Power, the heroine of Cutler's second series, is a police detective who leaves a promising career in the London police department after seeing her lover killed in a chase with law enforcement officers. In the first installment of the series, Power on Her Own, Kate Power transfers to the police force in Birmingham, hoping to make a fresh start. As the only woman on the force, however, she finds herself the target of relentless sexual harassment by her colleagues. Kate struggles with her troubles, including a drinking problem, while investigating a challenging case involving a child molester turned murderer. The book is more successful "as a character study than as a police procedural," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer. A Kirkus Reviews writer praised the author's "close analyses of chauvinism, racism, and the attractions of married men." Booklist writer Emily Melton approved of Cutler's "deft plotting and appealing, multidimensional characters."
In Staying Power Kate Power has gained a modicum of respect from her fellow officers at the West Midlands police station, yet she still struggles with the rampant chauvinism on the force. At the same time, she finds herself infatuated with her boss, she sustains a knee injury, and she is challenged with caring for a family member who is becoming senile. A short vacation in Italy leads to a lively conversation on the plane with a man named Alan Grafton, an exporter of leather products. A few days later, Alan is reported dead from an apparent suicide. Not believing that he could have taken his own life, Kate sets out to uncover the truth. A Kirkus Reviews writer thought that Cutler sometimes lost control of her plot in this story, noting that the author's focus was on "chauvinism, racism, and the almost inexplicable allure of certain men." On the other hand, Melton, writing again in Booklist, considered Staying Power to be "a well-crafted story" that provides readers with "a nicely detailed look at cop-shop life."
Cutler introduced a new protagonist with 2005's The Food Detective. Set in a small village, the story revolves around Josie Welford, a newcomer who lives next to a retired policeman, Nick Thomas. Josie and Nick met years earlier, when he was responsible for her husband going to jail. Nick's work as a food inspector inspires him to convince Josie she should only purchase organic foods, a decision that seems to set off a chain of strange reprisals. A Kirkus Reviews writer called Josie an appealing character with "gumption, bravado and a diet plan that works."
Cutler once told CA: "I started to write at school, winning the Critical Quarterly short story prize at the age of seventeen. Unfortunately, though I always wanted to write, my studies, marriage, and a teaching career came between me and my ambition. I worked in a big, underfunded inner-city college in Birmingham, England's 'second city.' The young people I taught were for the most part deprived, working against enormous odds to improve themselves. It was this experience that formed the background for my early novels, featuring amateur detective Sophie Rivers, who fights injustice as much as she fights crime. I also wanted to reflect the enormous positive changes that have taken place in Birmingham. My other series character, Detective Sergeant Kate Power, is new to the city: though she comes prepared to sneer, she soon loves it as home.
"I left full-time teaching in 1996 and was able to undertake a variety of part-time appointments, varying from a maximum security prison to an idyllic Greek island, from local libraries to the University of Birmingham. A move from the Midlands has offered me the chance to use other settings, such as picturesque locations in rural Kent and in Devon. My partner in the Murder, Ancient and Modern duo, Edward Marston, has encouraged me to start writing historical fiction, particularly short stories. If I am ever short of inspiration, I turn to my garden and its organic vegetables."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2002, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Head over Heels, p. 822; June 1, 2003, Emily Melton, review of Power of Her Own, p. 1748; June 1, 2004, Emily Melton, review of Staying Power, p. 1706.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of Power on Her Own, p. 717; April 15, 2004, review of Staying Power, p. 364; June 15, 2005, review of The Food Detective, p. 665.
Library Journal, July, 2003, Rex Klett, review of Power on Her Own, p. 128.
Publishers Weekly, May 5, 2003, review of Power on Her Own, p. 202; May 17, 2004, review of Staying Power, p. 37.
Judith Cutler Home Page, http://www.judithcutler.co.uk (January 18, 2006).