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Jonathan Gash

The Judas Pair

Collins Crime Club 1977
UK First Edition Book

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Jonathan Gash

This story's about greed, desire, love and death - in the world of antiques you get the lot The beguiling and distinctive narrator of this unusual first crime novel knows what he is talking about, for he is an antique dealer himself, handling anything and everything and freely letting fall gems of fascinating information while disseminating his irreverent inside view of the trade. Lovejoy's speciality, however, is flintlock pistols, so when he is approached by a rich but obviously naive collector with the request to obtain for him a pair so rare that the trade even doubts their existence. Lovejcy can only laugh. 'But the Judds Fair do exist/ cries the client. 'I've seen them. They killed my brother/ And a murderer possesses them now. So now Lovejoy is on the track of both an unsolved crime and of a uniquely valuable pair of pistols, and there is no doubt which interests him most. When a small item comes into his possession which he recognizes as an accessory of the fabled flintlocks, it is as though the dealer had smelt blood, Unfortunately so has the murderer, for this means the precious duellers for which he has killed are incomplete. Yet if he admits to ownership he admits to murder. It is the beginning of a duel to the death. Racy, informed, unexpectedly resourceful when in a tight corner, Lovejoy with his big old Armstrong-Siddeley and his succession of girl-friends is a superbly vivid creation who very nearly walks off the page. Happily he is destined to walk right back on to it, for Jonathan Gash is already at work on his second book.

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