Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery, Book 12
Pages: 344 pages
Finished: June 11, 2010
First Published: Dec. 29, 2009
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: mystery, British police procedural, historical fiction
She stood in front of the cheval glass, the long mirror that Peter had given her on their second anniversary, and considered herself.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.
Reason for Reading: I've always wanted to read a book by this "author". The reason for reading the book now though is that this was actually the very first book I received in 2010 to review and while I was putting my piles of review, won, tbr, etc. books onto my new bookcase I found it grouped with the wrong books so I rectified the situation by making it my next read.
Jumping in with book twelve in a mystery series has the potential to cause some problems. As to an ongoing personal story there was only a brief mention of that at the beginning and the end, plus some vague references to previous solved crimes which didn't interfere with my reading at all. What did make the book hard for me to get into was the character of Ian Rutledge. By this time, he is a well established character and readers are presumed to know him already. Being new to this type of character did hinder my getting settled into the story, especially since Rutledge is unlike any other inspector I've come across. Set two years after the end of the Great War, Rutledge is a war veteran who secretly suffers from emotional effects of the war, shell shock, which is now known as post-traumatic stress disorder. In particular, he carries around with him, so to speak, one of his fallen soldiers, Hamish, who speaks to him in his head and Rutledge needs to physically be aware that there is space for him, though he will never look at him, they do have conversations and Hamish can be considered to be Rutledge's partner as would be found in other books. This took some time for me to actually comprehend and now makes me want to start this series from the beginning.
The story itself is wonderful. A full cast of characters connected in one way or another makes the list of suspects large but finite. The writing spends much time on the characters lives, giving each individual a real and true representation. Rutledge is given two cases to work on. The first involves a lone widow whose husband never returned from the War, who is found murdered at her own front door. The second is of a wealthy man who mysteriously disappears from hospital. The man turns up safe after being away long enough to cause considerable worry but soon Rutledge has more than just one body on his hands. A very clever mystery. What I usually term a "thinking man's" mystery. There are several secrets and mysteries along with the murder to solve and reveals come slowly and can change the reader's whole take on things. I had fun having the satisfaction of figuring out some secrets and mysteries but never could hold on to the murderer. In the end I was surprised.
I really enjoyed this book. The time period is a perfect setting for British mysteries, invoking the charm of the the Golden Age writers, yet I wouldn't call this a cozy. This is much more a psychological drama with a lot of insight into the after effects of war, in all sorts of ways throughout British society. A very satisfying read and one that I will be adding to my must read list. Though I'll have to start at the beginning to get the full story on the intriguing Inspector Ian Rutledge.