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on 6 April 2001
It's been a good four years since I have read a Wycliffe novel and it was a refreshing to read the Guild of Nine.The Guild of Nine, a group of crafts people brought together by a man called Archer, who is obsessed by astrology and wants to run the guild by the stars! Lina, Archers wife is a lot stronger in personality, really runs the business side of the guild, makes constant trips to Holland on the pretext of buying and importing pictures. Francine has just come into the money and would like to invest into the guild and eventually change its ways. Three members (two already mentioned) of the guild meet a untimely death and Wycliffe is called in to solve the case.The plot runs smoothly from the introduction of the characters, running through to the first death to the last, taking the reader on a journey of just over a week without any complicated twists or turns to throw the reader off. Another first class story from Mr. Burley and after reading this one it has made me go back to the book shelf to dig out a few more.
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on 18 May 2006
This is the last completed book in the Wycliffe series (Burley had just started a new book when he died in 2002), and revisits the characters from an earlier book. It's set ten years after the events of "The Quiet Virgin", but can be read as a standalone. Detective Chief Inspector Wycliffe is in even more melancholy mood than usual, for he has to face both a new, and _female_, commanding officer, and the murder of a young woman he knows from an old case. For Wycliffe the case brings both guilt at not having kept in touch with Francine, and pleasure at seeing other figures from the past. Some strands of the plot are obvious, but as a second murder and then a third violent death interrupt the police investigation the possiblities multiply.

One of the weaker books in the series, in my view, but still no disappointment. As with the series in general, it's an enjoyable read for those times when you'd like something complex enough to be satisfying but short and simple enough to follow when you're tired or distracted. Note that there are major spoilers for earlier book "A Quiet Virgin".
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on 11 September 2011
It's always difficult deciding what to read next after a particularly absorbing book. I find it impossible to plunge straight into another book of the same genre, and if a book is particularly haunting or emotionally draining, it can be hard to read anything at all. So I have a reserve of formulaic books that are gently easy to read - rather like the sorbet to clear the palette between courses, they are insubstantial and easy to digest.

Wycliffe books fall into this category. Every one follows the same pattern. There's a murder, and a group of eccentric suspects with mysterious and devious pasts to be uncovered, and a morose but persistent detective who gradually pieces it all together (but not before the reader, hopefully). It's all rather charming and cosy. There are more than twenty Wycliffe stories, all set in Cornwall.

This particular one is a follow-on to 'Wycliffe and the Quiet Virgin', in that some of the characters from that one reappear here, but it isn't at all necessary to have read the earlier book first (although it would be odd to read it afterwards, since this book gives away key aspects of the plot). This isn't a demanding read (one of the big mysteries was, I thought, blindingly obvious) and the big reveal of whodunnit is quite simplistic, but nevertheless it whiled away a few hours very pleasantly. Not great literature, but then it has no pretensions to be. If they were a little cheaper, I would probably buy the whole lot.
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Readers who enjoyed Wycliffe and the Quiet Virgin will find some familiar characters in this story. The Guild of Nine is a craft colony - think Bloomsbury Group. Two of the members of the Guild featured in Wycliffe and the Quiet Virgin - Paul Bateman - now a skilled wood carver; and Francine - the Quiet Virgin of the earlier title. When Francine is found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning the field is wide open and any of the rest of the Guild members could have committed the crime.

Wycliffe is more than normally affected by the case because he was always intrigued by Francine and he finds his thoughts to be more than normally scattered about the case. When another death takes place the need to solve the case becomes ever more urgent and everyone's secrets need to be brought out into the open.

The book is well written and the characters' motivations are believable and intriguing. As ever the relationships between the police characters and Wycliffe's relationship with his wife - the long suffering Helen - are convincing. This is the last book in the series and even though it includes characters from a previous book it can be read as a standalone story.
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on 30 September 2013
Another deserved 5 star brilliant plot. I recommend this book to all Kindle readers but wish to say, read The Quiet Virgin before this one.
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on 18 August 2013
Very clever book with lots of twists and turns. Intriguing and great if you've read other Wycliffe books, as it revisits a previous case.
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on 4 March 2016
Excellent read did not want to put the story down
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on 4 November 2014
Good price. Good delivery.
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on 8 March 2015
Good value purchase
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on 28 May 2009
At the site of a disused mine near St Ives in Cornwall lies an artists' colony. Known as the Guild of Nine it was set up by Archer, who runs it according to astrological principles, and his wife, Lina, a woman with her feet rather more firmly on the ground. When the newest member, Francine, is found dead in her bead, killed by a deliberately blocked gas-heater, flue, Chief Superintendent Wycliffe investigates.
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