From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In the stellar 11th Insp. Ian Rutledge mystery (after 2007's A Pale Horse
), Todd (the pseudonym of a mother-son writing team) seamlessly combines a fair-play whodunit with a nuanced look into the heart of darkness in the human soul. During the Boer War, Pvt. Harold Quarles takes advantage of a Boer attack on a British military train to enrich himself. When two decades later his battered corpse is found grotesquely displayed at his country residence in Somerset, Scotland Yard's Ian Rutledge must sift through the plethora of lies, omissions and motives surrounding Quarles, who had become a successful investment adviser in London. Because the victim was almost universally despised in Somerset, Rutledge has no shortage of suspects. The inspector's own inner struggles, stemming from his guilt over his morally questionable actions during WWI, make him a more human and complicated protagonist than most other series sleuths. (Jan.)
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Any good historical novel steeps its reader in the details of a period. But Charles Todd does it with a passion—and through a narrator uniquely qualified to understand human nature—that brings fresh possibilities to the genre. Todd writes with atmospheric charm and a dark psychological edge that makes Rutledge one of crime writing's most compelling recurring characters. Especially intriguing is Rutledge's own coming to terms with his guilt over actions committed in World War I. "Finding a way back had somehow seemed to be a final betrayal," he thinks in A Matter of Justice
, as he again questions his own survival. The success of the series hinges on both clever plotting and the nuance with which the authors continue to develop their character.
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