A Lonely Death
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". . .a psychic time capsule . . ."
Slow pace suits this character sketch of turn of the century England.
Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard has two crimes to think about, the unsolved murder of a man at Stonehenge and a series of murders in the town of Eastfield where three men have been garroted. He also needs to watch his back because he is not in favor with the Chief Superintendant who does not want to promote Inspector Ian in the wake of Chief Inspector Cummins’ retirement. And then there are more personal issues.
Unlike the adrenaline-fueled mysteries and thrillers set in modern times, Charles Todd’s mystery is much slower paced, almost cozy, except without a sharp-eyed, elderly female sleuth. Inspector Ian Rutledge is back from World War I and back at his job at the yard and life is difficult, so he concentrates on the job. What A Lonely Death lacks in speed, it more than makes up in introspection, depth and mysteries.
Inspector Ian Rutledge is a methodical detective who deal swith more than one mystery at a time: one an unsolved murder from Chief inspector Cummins’s past and the ongoing garroting of a group of young men back from the war in the village of Eastfield. One of the suspects, the head mistress of a local private school, is determined to keep Inspector Rutledge off the case and gets him removed by making complaints to Inspector Rutledge’s superiors at the Yard. She nearly gets him suspended and does implicate him in an attack on the inspector who replaced him, but that does not keep Inspector Rutledge from the trail for long. Nothing is wasted: not time, not effort and not tears.
Todd evokes a time and place that is unique and believable and does it with a minimum of fuss. Reading A Lonely Death is like being transported back in time and set down in post war England camouflaged as one of the residents. There is little wasted on extravagant background or long thought provoking passages and instead all Todd’s energy and prose go into the creation of characters that carry weight and inhabit space and time fully.
A Lonely Death is a psychic time capsule that captures the rocky years after the Great War with all of its collateral damage intact and creates the bedrock upon which Inspector Ian Rutledge solve crimes and find a place in which he can live, work and eventually grow.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell