The Charles Todd team is an old pro at the police procedural, and the pair continues to add layers to the damaged Ian Rutledge, a character whose PTSD keeps these books especially relevant and compelling. The series has been compared favorably to the Golden Age crime fiction of Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh, among others, as well as Pat Barker’s Regeneration
trilogy, perhaps the finest contemporary fiction to center on World War I and its consequences. The Rutledge series shows no signs of becoming stale. New readers can jump right in, while those already a dozen books deep in Rutledge’s struggle for redemption and justice will find new aspects of the novels to keep them reading.
The ever-popular Inspector Rutledge of Scotland Yard returns in this compelling mystery. In 1920, a trio of murders brings Rutledge to a village in Sussex, armed with questions. Why were these men, survivors of the Great War, killed in the same vicious manner? What’s the meaning of the similar objects found inside the dead men’s mouths? When a fourth man is murdered soon after Rutledge arrives in town, the inspector realizes he has only a short time in which to solve these crimes and precious little to go on. Aided, as usual, by his ethereal partner, the spirit of a soldier for whose WWI death Rutledge feels responsible, the inspector pieces together the clues and slowly makes his way toward a solution. As always, the authors (“Charles Todd” is a pseudonym for a mother-son writing team) create a solid sense of time and place, and Inspector Rutledge remains a multifaceted hero, resourceful, engaging, and self-tortured. Another engaging entry in a fine series. --David Pitt