What could possibly go wrong at the Rutherford Arts Festival? DCI Winwood is about to find out. It is not long before the first body is found at the VIP drinks evening. Edwin ‘Eddie’ Searchfield was an old man but what interests Winwood is that he died drinking a glass of wine sitting at the table directly beneath a painting of a naked cellist. The painting is not officially entered into the exhibition and no one knows who the artist is or who the naked cellist is. She is taken into police custody until one or both can be established. As the Festival progresses so do the number of unusual accidents that occur to a group of people connected by University, School and the Arts. These happen against a backdrop of strange, bizarre, unusual and totally experimental performances booked into the festival by the novice organiser John Charlesworth and featured in the daily blog of cub reporter Maggs Holdgate. Winwood’s nose for suspecting that dark forces are at work has never let him down before and this case is no different. Sergeant Emma Porter and Winwood have to call upon the knowledge and expertise of loyal friends; ROADS the Rutherford Operatic And Dramatic Society, Brian Bennett the newspaper editor, John Cherry the antiquarian bookseller, the Reverend Janice Paige and Christine Grey, Leader of the Council. Finally Winwood makes a connection between the Festival and the motive behind it but no one can or will confirm his version. There are two more deaths, a hit and run, a blackmail threat and drugged drinks before everything becomes quite clear and a suspect arrested. If you find pleasure in the works of John Constable rather than winners of the Turner Prize then enjoy the ride with Winwood as you uncover the irreverent, satirical and humorous aspect of the Arts world as presented by the Rutherford Arts Festival. Or as Detective Chief Inspector Steve Winwood describes it: ‘One Hundred of the World’s Worst Artistic Disasters’.
About the Author
John Barber was born in London at the height of the UK Post War baby boom. The Education Act of 1944 saw great changes in the way the nation was taught; the main one being that all children stayed at school until the age of 15 (later increased to 16). For the first time working class children were able to reach higher levels of academic study and the opportunity to gain further educational qualifications at University. This explosion in education brought forth a new aspirational middle class; others remained true to their working class roots. The author belongs somewhere between the two. Many of the author’s main characters have their genesis in this educational revolution. Their dialogue though idiosyncratic can normally be understood but like all working class speech it is liberally sprinkled with strange boyhood phrases and a passing nod to cockney rhyming slang. John Barber’s novels are set in fictional English towns where sexual intrigue and political in-fighting is rife beneath a pleasant, small town veneer of respectability. They fall within the cozy, traditional British detective sections of mystery fiction. He has been writing professionally since 1996 when he began to contribute articles to magazines on social and local history. His first published book in 2002 was a non-fiction work entitled The Camden Town Murder which investigated a famous murder mystery of 1907 and names the killer. This is still available in softback and as an ebook, although not available from Smashwords John Barber had careers in Advertising, International Banking and the Wine Industry before becoming Town Centre Manager in his home town of Hertford. He is now retired and lives with his wife and two cats on an island in the middle of Hertford and spends his time between local community projects and writing further novels.