- Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries (Book 10)
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (December 26, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061233560
- ISBN-13: 978-0061233562
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 135 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,394,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Pale Horse: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) Hardcover – December 26, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The exemplary 10th Inspector Ian Rutledge historical whodunit (after A False Mirror) offers tight plotting and rich characterization amid understated but convincing evocations of post–WWI England. Haunted by memories of battle, unable to find a safe haven after his discharge from a psychiatric hospital and the abrupt departure of his fiancée, shell-shocked veteran Rutledge has returned to his prewar life as a Scotland Yard inspector. This time out, the War Office wants him to locate a mysterious person of interest, connected with (and perhaps the same as) an unidentified corpse found at a Yorkshire abbey. Rutledge toils diligently to uncover personal secrets and shames that may have motivated someone to kill, and their connection to a long-ago romance between the suspected killer's wife and the local inspector investigating the case. The mother and son writing as Charles Todd show no evidence of running out of ideas for murder mysteries that illuminate new aspects of their compelling protagonist and the horrors of the Great War. (Dec.)
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About the Author
Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. Among the honors accorded to the Ian Rutledge mysteries are the Barry Award and nominations for the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association’s Dilys Award, the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the U.S., and the John Creasey Award in the UK. A mother-and-son writing team, they live on the East Coast.
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This book in the series does not overdo the pestering by Hamish, and that's a relief. The plot ranges over quite a bit of geography, and in truth it wanders more than it should. The constant driving about is overdone, and boredom threatens. The Yorkshire characters just get dropped, splat, and forgotten about.
Despite the rather strung-out plot, the book is a worthy part of the series. I guess when Rutledge can finally tell Hamish to put a sock in it, the series will be over, but I'm getting close to ready for Rutledge to make some progress with his guilt and sorrow -- just a little bit. That may be unfair and unrealistic of me, never having had any first-hand experience of PTSD. But some character development would be welcome.
In "A Pale Horse," the Scotland Yard inspector is charged with determining, on behalf of the army, the whereabouts of a mysterious man named Partridge who lives in an isolated cluster of cottages near the famous White Horse--an outline carved into the chalk hillside in prehistoric times. He returns to London, only to be sent to assist the local police in a death in Yorkshire. Is the dead man in Yorkshire connected with the missing man in Tomlin? No prize for giving the correct answer. And certainly coincidences are aplenty here, oppressively so.
The first section of the novel is chiefly devoted to the story of the obsessively vindictive Inspector with whom Rutledge deals in Yorkshire. This portion is never satisfactorily joined to the main action of the book, which centers on the area near the white horse and the village of Tomlin. A subplot involving Rutledge's sister Frances moves fitfully through the work (involving yet another coincidence), only to be dealt with in a very cursory fashion at the end. A female character who has figured in another Rutledge novel makes a few brief and enigmatic appearances in this one. Perhaps these latter issues will be dealt with further in a subsequent series entry, but when this happens too frequently, it doesn't so much interest the reader in reading the future novel, as much as make him or her irritated at the present one. The book rolls on to its conclusion without particularly drawing us in to care very much about any of the characters, with the exception perhaps of the Tomlin blacksmith Andrew Slater, who is nicely fleshed out.
The single biggest problem in the series as it stands is Rutledge's relationship with his personal ghost, Hamish, the spirit of a man Rutledge was compelled to execute by firing squad during World War I. Hamish functions as scourge, advisor, and, on occasion, companion. Todd has developed this mechanism very thoughtfully, but it is beginning to wear thin. I feel like strangling Hamish myself. Will Rutledge ever be able to exorcise Hamish? Will Todd choose to open up the novels by resolving this issue and taking Rutledge in some new direction? I hope so.
I'd also like to see Rutledge turn the tables on his ever hostile supervisor. Bowles's enmity is growing tired as a device for maintaining Rutledge's status quo.
If you already are a Rutledge fan, "A Pale Horse" offers the usual very good entertainment of the atmosphere of post-world-war England, nice local color, good page-to-page writing, and an engaging hero. But if you haven't read any of the series before, I'd go back and start at the beginning. The early novels have a freshness and an inspiration this one lacks.
As anyone who has read my book reviews can tell, I am very, very picky with my books and rarely give a book five stars. I have read various criticisms of one or another of the books in these series and I just don't understand them. I can honestly say that I can't think of a single criticism for this book or any of the other books in this entire series.
In this book, a dead body is found wearing a monk's robe and a gas mask. Meanwhile, Rutledge is assigned to find a missing man who the war office is very interested in. Is the missing man, the man in the gas mask? They mystery ensues.