Publisher: William Morrow (2018)
Kindle edition: $9.99
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Book 20)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
After seeing his sister successfully married, Ian Rutledge found it hard to sleep. That wasn’t unusual: even though the Great War was long over, the memories remain. At least he’d heard nothing that day from Corporal Hamish MacLeod. The man was dead, his body buried in France, but his voice returned from the war with Rutledge.
To clear his head, he set off for an overnight trip to the countryside. On an isolated stretch of roadway his headlights revealed a strange scene. A car was stopped in the middle of the road. Standing beside it was an elegantly dressed woman, gazing in horror at the body of a motionless man.
Rutledge approached the scene, observing that the young woman was shaking and distraught, and that her hands were covered in blood. She told Rutledge she hadn’t killed the man, who she named as Stephen Wentworth. He was taking her home from a party when a stranger appeared in the road, refusing to move. When Wentworth got out to discuss the matter, the two exchanged words, the stranger shot him pointblank, and vanished into the fields.
The constable in Wolfpit, Wentworth’s village, was called and the necessary procedures set in motion. Something about the case intrigued Rutledge, and he convinced Scotland Yard and the local authorities that he was the man to investigate it. In the following days set out to discover who Stephen Wentworth was and who wanted him dead. Everyone in the village had only good things to say about the man. He came from a prominent family but never put on airs; he’d served honorably in the war; he bought a bookstore that was popular with the locals. The only negatives came from his own mother, a bitter woman who called her son a murderer.
When a second murder occurred with circumstances similar to the first, Rutledge searched in vain for connections between the two victims. He doggedly followed all leads, uncovering long-held secrets, past tragedies, feuds and affairs.
This is the twentieth novel in the highly acclaimed series, written by the mother/son writing team known as Charles Todd. Inspector Rutledge is a flawed character, suffering from the physical and mental pain of his wartime injuries, but it doesn’t stop him from being an excellent investigator and a decent man. The Great War had an immense impact on England and her people, and that comes across vividly. THE GATE KEEPER is another winner in this series. Recommended.
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