The Great War never relinquished its hold on Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge, leaving him haunted and isolated, unable to forget. In the spring of 1920, he's dispatched to Berkshire to find a missing man whose war work is so secret even Rutledge cannot know its true nature. Meanwhile, miles away, an unidentified body has been discovered in the ruins of a Yorkshire abbey, clothed in a monk's robe and wearing a gas mask.
In the shadow of a great white horse cut into the chalk hillside—where cottages once built to house the sick and untouchable now shelter outcasts like himself—Rutledge must extract a terrible truth from those who hide from the past. For death is never quite finished with anyone, least of all the men who fought in the bloody trenches of France.
About the Author
Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. Among the honors accorded to the Ian Rutledge mysteries are the Barry Award and nominations for the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association’s Dilys Award, the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the U.S., and the John Creasey Award in the UK. A mother-and-son writing team, they live on the East Coast.
Read an Excerpt
A Pale Horse
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery
Early April 1920
It was nearing the full moon, and the night seemed to shimmer with light.
He walked down the lane and turned to look up at the hillside.
The graceful white horse cut into the chalk by ancient Britons galloped across the green slope without stirring from its place.
He couldn't see it without remembering. That was the only reason he had chosen to live in this Godforsaken place. To torment himself until he couldn't bear it any more.
The horses had died too, in that first gas attack. It wasn't just the men. The poor beasts couldn't know what the low-lying mist wafting toward them brought in its wake.
An eyewitness had likened the cloud to a great horse moving across a barren meadow, ambling toward the barn for its dinner. Not hurrying, not drifting, just moving steadily, without apparent purpose, without apparent design, following the wind as the horse followed the scent of its stall and the fresh hay heaped in the manger. But like the pale horse of the Apocalypse, on his back rode Death. And Hell had truly followed them.
He smiled grimly at the imagery.
He hadn't been there when the Germans unleashed the chlorine attack against the Allies at Ypres. Yet it had changed his life in ways no one could have foreseen.
He wished he'd never heard the name of that medieval Belgian town. He wished the Germans had never reached it. Or that the British had left well enough alone and let them have the wretched place.
There was a silver flask of brandy in his pocket, and he feltfor it, uncapped it, lifted it to his lips, then paused.
What if he drank it to the dregs and crawled into the ruins of Wayland's Smithy to die, like a wounded animal hiding itself away until it either healed or breathed its last?
Would anyone care? A shadow was coming up the road toward him. It was Andrew Slater, the smith. It was impossible not to recognize him, even at this distance. Andrew was built like a church tower, tall and broad and solid. But the man didn't turn at the lane. He passed by without speaking, as if sleepwalking, moving on toward the Smithy. Like to like.
It would be crowded inside with the two of them there, he told himself with black humor. Not counting whatever ghosts lingered in that narrow Stone Age tomb.
I envy Andrew Slater, he thought, there in the darkness. He lives only in the present, while I have only the past.
He drank a little of the brandy, for courage, saluting the pale horse with his flask. Then he turned and trudged back to his cottage and turned up all the lamps for comfort.A Pale Horse
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery. Copyright © by Charles Todd. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.