Wednesday, January 29, 2014
HUNTING SHADOWS by CHARLES TODD
Charles Todd interests me because "he" is actually a mother and son writing team. That fact just blows me away. They live in different states, yet manage to collaborate on excellent books. This is the latest in their Inspector Ian Rutledge series.
Set in England just after World War I many of the characters are suffering from physical and mental problems due to their service in that horrible war. Rutledge is too. He is accompanied everywhere he goes by the voice of a Scottish soldier named Hamish, a sensible man who was killed in the trenches. Rutledge blames himself so Hamish is always with him and gives him good advice.
Rutledge is sent to the Fens as the local police have requested help solving two murders. First an army officer is killed as he approaches the cathedral in Ely for a society wedding. Then a local man standing for Parliament is shot and killed just as he begins a speech in the middle of the village of Wriston one evening. Bystanders carry torches so it's difficult to see but one woman sees a "monster" in a window above the ironmonger's shop.
The Fens are very much a character in the story as is the relative isolation of villages in the area. I didn't know anything about this part of England but found it very interesting. There are windmills to direct water for irrigation and drainage, little bridges, and all of the land except where roads and villages are has been lowered to stave off flooding. There are nights when misty fog makes any travel impossible, and wouldn't you know it's on such a dangerous night that Rutledge arrives. The people have been shaped by geography and the difficulty of making a living.
The mystery fooled me. I kept mentally accusing the wrong man, but when I reached the end, the whole story made perfect sense. Rutledge's own difficulties with his war experiences make him more interesting than the average detective, and I loved Hamish. Wonderful read.
Source: William Morrow Imprint of HarperCollins