The Grail Tree, the third in the Lovejoy series set in East Anglia, sees the reprobate antiques dealer Lovejoy summoned to see an elderly man, Henry, who thinks he has the Holy Grail. However, before Lovejoy can visit, Henry is dead and his houseboat destroyed. The police are inclined to treat it as an accident, but Lovejoy, generally at odds with the local constabulary, knows otherwise. Lovejoy also takes on an apprentice, Lydia, who becomes involved in tracking down the people and the events that led to Henry’s death.
For those who remember the TV series, Lovejoy will always be equated with Ian McShane, and they will forgive some of the sexism, the treatment of women as interchangeable objects, that was considered the mark of the “lad” of the 70s and 80s. I found myself shaking my head a number of times at remarks that were borderline back then, but beyond the pale now. A worldview that’s going underground, if not vanishing. There are poorly differentiated characters, particularly the women, which makes it hard to follow in places. All the same, it moves at a terrific lick (unlike Lovejoy’s car, that required matches to light the headlights) and is best enjoyed as a window into a bygone age.
This forms part of this year’s Just the Facts Ma’am Silver Challenge, filed under “How – Crime involved fire/arson”.