by Charles Todd
It isn’t enough that Inspector Ian Rutledge has to solve a case with too many suspects; he also has to contend with an unusual sidekick- a voice in his head.
An English financier is found murdered at his country estate, Scotland Yard is called in by the local constabulary and Inspector Ian Rutledge is sent down to investigate. Harold Quarles has been found hanging in his own barn, gruesomely trussed up in the rafters, and wearing the costume of the Angel in the village’s annual Christmas pageant. Rutledge quickly discovers that to say the victim was not well liked in the village of Cambury, would be an understatement. Motives and suspects abound: the dead man’s former partner, the baker, the church organist, the bookseller, a former cook and others all had reason to want him out of their lives. Even his wife, who seems in no way saddened by the death of her husband, might have done it. The local policeman insists that the murderer would most likely be found in London, where the victim conducted business and lived most of the time, but Rutledge thinks the answer lies in the village. Rutledge soon discovers that perhaps there is more than one motive and more than one place in which to track the solution down.
In this 11th installment of the series featuring Rutledge, the mother-son team writing as Charles Todd, successfully convey the inner turmoil and loneliness that are his constant companions as he investigates. The memories of his harrowing experiences during World War I are never far from his mind. In fact, Hamish, a sergeant who died under his command, lives on in Rutledge’s mind, critiquing his every move. Hamish’s interruptions are as abrupt to the reader as they are to Rutledge: a neat trick on the authors’ part. It is hard to know if he’s a help, a hindrance or a comfort, he’s just always there.
Readers who enjoy mysteries populated by realistic and detailed characters, written with a dark psychological edge should enjoy this book.
– posted by Sonia, Readers’ Services