A False Mirror: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery
William Morrow, 2007 (2007)
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Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
he mother and son team writing under the name Charles Todd has produced another fine novel of the aftermath of World War I in Great Britain, portraying those afflicted with the memories of their time in the trenches. Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is summoned to Hampton Regis, a small village on the southeast coast of England. He carries with him the conscience of Hamish, a man he was forced to execute during the war for dereliction of duty. Hamish speaks to him, in a Scottish accent, giving his own opinions on happenings.
atthew Hamilton has been viciously beaten and left for dead by the sea. Immediately the local law presumes the attacker is the admirer of Hamilton's wife, Mallory, who asks that Rutledge come to prove he is not guilty. In the meantime, Mallory holds Hamilton's wife and maid captive as security against being arrested and hung.
he plot of this wonderful novel is tightly woven. Suspense reigns on every page. Marvelous characterizations abound. Even without the sense of place, this would be a mesmerizing story. But with it, it exceeds expectations. Todd always picks up the reader and drops them gently into each scene so that one can almost feel the mist on the face, hear the tolling of the church bell to announce a fire in the village, smell the burning of food on a neglected frying pan, experience the panic of being accused of murder, hear the rustling of tree limbs during a storm, and almost become drenched by the lashing rain.
heartbreakingly underscores that the end of hostilities is not necessarily the end of war for soldiers who carry the scars of battle for the rest of their lives - a lesson that has yet to be learned. This is another really fine novel in a wonderful series.
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