Wings of Fire (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #2)

Wings of Fire (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #2)

by Charles Todd

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In Charles Todd's Wings of Fire, Inspector Ian Rutledge is quickly sent to investigate the sudden deaths of three members of the same eminent Cornwall family, but the World War I veteran soon realizes that nothing about this case is routine.

Including the identity of one of the dead, a reclusive spinster unmasked as O. A. Manning, whose war poetry helped Rutledge retain his grasp on sanity in the trenches of France. Guided by the voice of Hamish, the Scot he unwillingly executed on the battlefield, Rutledge is driven to uncover the haunting truths of murder and madness rooted in a family crypt...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312207519
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/15/1998
Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge Series , #2
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 14,421
File size: 380 KB

About the Author

Charles Todd lives on America's East Coast, but he knows England well. Intrigued by puzzles in the human spirit, he is the author of the critically acclaimed Inspector Ian Rutledge series, including Wings of Fire and Search the Dark.
Charles Todd lives on America's East Coast, but he knows England well. Intrigued by puzzles in the human spirit, he is the author of the critically acclaimed Inspector Ian Rutledge series, including A Test of Wills, Wings of Fire, and Search the Dark.

Read an Excerpt

Wings of Fire

By Charles Todd

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 1998 Charles Todd
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-96568-6


The bodies were discovered by Mrs. Trepol, widow, occupation housekeeper and cook to the deceased.

It was not a morning of swirling sea mists and gray drifting sheets of rain, although afterward Mrs. Trepol remembered it that way.

In fact, the clouds had lifted in the night. The sea was gleaming in patchy May sunlight down below the headland, the house cast long shadows across the wet grass, and an unseasonable warmth already touched the light breeze as she came out of the wood at the side of the big kitchen garden. Her eyes jealously studied the cabbages in their neat rows, measuring them against the size of her own, deciding that hers still had an edge. Well, of course they should! She'd always had the finest garden in the village, and hadn't she proved it with ribbons won at every Harvest Festival? The onions were taller—surely they hadn't been that high on Saturday? But anyone could grow onions. Her peas were already straggling up the sticks she'd set beside them, and growing peas was an art. No sticks stood beside these sad little stalks! She'd be cooking hers before these saw their first blossoms. Old Wilkins, who had kept the Hall's gardens and stables since the lads had all gone off to the war, knew more about horses than vegetables.

Not that he didn't crow over his work.

"Your carrots look a mite small, Mrs. Trepol," he'd say, hanging over the rock wall by her front walk. "Compared to mine, that is." Or, "Them beans is spindly. Put 'em in late, did ye?"

Nosy old fool!

Her complacency restored, she went up the three steps to the kitchen door and let herself in with her key as she always did. Not that this was her day to clean. Mondays normally were her day off. But tomorrow she wanted to visit her sister—Naomi's husband had offered to take them both to market in the morning—and Miss Livia never minded if occasionally she shifted her time.

The long stone passage was cool and quiet. At the end of it, she took off her coat, hung it on the peg as she always did, pulled her apron over her head, then stepped into the heart of her domain. And noticed at once that the breakfast dishes, usually neatly stacked on the drain board, hadn't been brought down. She looked around the kitchen, saw that it was much as she'd left it on Saturday evening, not even a crumb marring her scrubbed floor, saw too that no one had opened the curtains.

Oh, my dear! she thought, pityingly, Miss Livia must've had another bad night, and she's still asleep!

Going up to the back parlor, she found that those curtains were also closed. And for the first time she felt a tremor of alarm.

Mr. Nicholas always opened them at first light, to watch the sea. He'd said once that it made him feel alive to see the dawn come and touch the water ...

Miss Livia must have had a terrible night, then, if he'd missed the dawn on her account! Mrs. Trepol had never known that to happen in all the years she'd worked in the house. Mr. Nicholas was always up at first light ... always ...

She went out into the hall and looked up the curving stairs.

"Mr. Nicholas?" she called softly. "I've come. Is there anything I can do? Would you care for a cup of tea?"

The silence around her echoed her words and she felt very uneasy now. Surely if he was sitting by Miss Livia's bed, he'd have heard her and come out to speak to her?

Unless something was wrong with him—

She hurried up the stairs and went down the passage to Mr. Nicholas' room, tapping lightly on the panel. No one answered. After a moment's uncertainty, she turned the knob and opened the door.

The bed was made. From the look of it, it had not been slept in. Mr. Nicholas could always make it neatly, but never as smoothly as she did. This was her work. Saturday's work ...

She went back down the passage and knocked lightly at Miss Livia's door. Again there was no answer. She opened it gently, so as not to disturb Miss Livia, or Mr. Nicholas, if he'd fallen asleep in the chair by his sister's bed, and peered around the edge.

That bed too was untouched. The coverlet was as smooth as glass. Like Mr. Nicholas'. And there was no one in the chairs.

Suddenly very frightened, she listened to the house around her. Surely if Miss Livia had been taken down to the doctor's surgery in the night, there'd be a message left in the kitchen! But this wasn't her day; Mr. Nicholas wouldn't have known she was coming in. Well, then, someone would have mentioned it at services on Sunday morning. Eager to gossip—

Going to the long study at the end of the gallery, which Mr. Nicholas and Miss Livia shared, Mrs. Trepol knocked and waited, then reached for the knob as she had twice before.

And then fright turned suddenly to terror. She quickly drew her hand back, bringing it to her flat chest almost protectively, her heart thudding uncomfortably beneath her fingertips.

She stood there for several seconds, staring at the shut door, her voice refusing to call Mr. Nicholas' name, her hand refusing to reach again for the brass knob.

Whatever was behind that door, it was something she couldn't face, not alone, not with her heart hammering like it was going to jump out of her chest and run away.

She turned and fled down the stairs, stumbling on the old, worn treads, nearly falling headfirst in her haste, thinking only of the safety of the kitchen but not stopping there, rushing down the passage, on into the early sunlight and back the way she'd come, toward the village and Dr. Hawkins. Only then did she remember her coat, but nothing would have taken her back into that house. Shivering, on the verge of tears, driven by uncertainty, she ran heavily and awkwardly through the gardens, heedless of the cabbages, and towards the copse of trees where the path to the village began.

What was left of the family gathered in the drawing room for a drink when everyone else had finally gone home, but conversation was stilted, uneasy, as if they were strangers meeting for the first time and had yet to find common ground. The truth was, they felt like strangers. In the circumstances. Unsettled, uncomfortable. Isolated by their thoughts.

Then Stephen said abruptly, "Why do you suppose they did it?"

There was an odd silence. No one, thank God, had asked that all the long day! Not through the services nor the burials nor the reception at the Hall afterward, where friends and villagers had mingled, talking in subdued voices. Remembering Olivia and Nicholas, recalling some small incident or ordinary encounter, a conversation—all safely in the past. Avoiding the how and why of death, as if by tacit agreement. Avid curiosity dwelt in their eyes, but they were sensitive to the delicacy of the situation. Suicides.

No one had spoken of the poems, either.

Susannah said quickly, "What business is it of ours? They're dead. Let that be the end of it."

"Good God, Nicholas and Olivia were your brother and sister—"

"Half brother and sister!" she retorted, as if that might distance her from real pain.

"All right, then, half brother and sister! Haven't you even wondered about it? Don't you feel anything?"

"I feel grateful that they could be buried with Mother in the family vault," Susannah answered. "Thanks to the rector's kindness! In the old days, it wouldn't have been allowed, you know that. Suicides weren't buried in the churchyard, much less in the crypt! And we'd have been ostracized along with them. It's still bad enough, God knows. London will be an ordeal, facing all my friends, knowing pity's behind their sympathy—" She stopped, unwilling to lay her emotions out, raw and painful, for the others to paw over. "I don't want to talk about it! What we've got to face now is, what's to become of the house?"

Daniel said, "I'd always understood it was left to the survivors to sell." He glanced around the room. Susannah. Rachel. Stephen. Himself. He was Susannah's husband, but he'd always been treated as one of the family. That had been a source of great pride to him. With feelings running so high over the Troubles in Ireland, he might have been seen as less, well, acceptable socially, without the Trevelyan connection behind him. Not that the Trevelyans were so high and mighty, but they were old blood, respected. His eyes moved on. Cormac. Olivia and Nicholas'd left Cormac out of their wills. Daniel had found himself wondering, sometimes, who Cormac's Irish mother had been—if it had made a difference. Cormac was a FitzHugh, but not a Trevelyan. Not Rosamund's child. Nor wed to one of Rosamund's children. Nor, like Rachel, a cousin on the Marlowe side.

Rachel said, "Yes, that's what I'd been told. Unless they changed their minds. At the end." As they'd changed their minds about living ... She took a deep breath and refused to think about it. And instead found herself listening again. To the sounds of the house. Since she'd walked through the door two days ago, she'd felt it. Swallowing her, drawing the very breath from her body. Frightening her with a stillness that wasn't stillness ...

Stephen said, moving his cane along the pattern of the Persian carpet's intertwined medallions. "Well, I for one know what I think we should do. We should turn this place into a memorial. A museum in Livia's memory."

Susannah stared at him in surprise.

Cormac said, "Don't be ridiculous! It's the last thing she'd have wanted! Olivia spent her entire life hiding from people. Do you think she'd be pleased to have strangers wandering about in here now?" He moved gracefully around the room, tall and oddly beautiful in a very masculine way.

"It isn't up to you," Stephen retorted. He tried not to watch. He tried not to resent that grace. And couldn't help it. The war had left him with half a foot. And this damned cane. Trenchfoot and gangrene, for God's sake, not honorable wounds! No more long walks over the Downs, no more tennis, no more dancing, no more riding to hounds. He could still bowl at cricket, but awkwardly, terrified he'd lose his balance and fall flat on his face.

"All the same, Cormac's right," Rachel said. "I can't imagine this place a museum. Livia would feel it was a betrayal."

"Think of the cost," Daniel added. "You'd need money for upkeep, repairs, staff. A trust of some sort. Olivia may have been famous, but she wasn't that rich! In her own right, I mean."

"We could afford it," Stephen persisted. "Or perhaps the National Trust would be interested."

"Not without a handsome endowment," Cormac replied, stopping by the windows, his back to them. "It would take more than three quarters of your inheritance."

"What are you saying? That we divide up the furniture—the sideboard for me, the piano for you, and who's going to take the grandfather's clock?—then sell the house and grounds? Pretend Olivia and Nicholas never existed, that the family—what's left of it—doesn't care?" Stephen was steadily losing his temper.

"You want a museum to your own memory, not hers," Susannah said suddenly. "It's your immortality you're thinking about, don't pretend it isn't!"


"Yes, yours! The war's changed you, Stephen—and not for the better. Oh, I've heard you at dinners since she was found out, simpering when someone asks who the love poems were written about. You think it's you, her darling, her favorite!" There was heavy sarcasm in her quiet voice. He'd been Mother's favorite too. He was Susannah's twin—and always so much more than her equal.

"Well, what if they were written about me? I've as much right as any of you to think what I please. You're greedy, that's what it is, wanting the money, wanting every penny you can squeeze. And that's why she left her literary estate to me. A pity she didn't include the house as well!"

"Who died last?" Rachel put in diffidently, not sure she wanted to know. "If it was Nicholas, then it's his will we're haggling over, not hers."

"They were the same. Everything to each other, and if that failed, the poems to Stephen, and the house to the four survivors, jointly," Cormac told her over his shoulder. There was no resentment in the level voice that he hadn't been included.

"I'd hate to see day-trippers wandering through here," Susannah said, "staring like spectators at a hanging, then eating their pasties and cider out on the lawns overlooking the sea." She shuddered. "It's horrid."

"More horrid if this place is lost," Stephen declared. "She's a major English poet, for God's sake!"

"When was the last time you were in Stratford? Or Word-worth's home in Grasmere?" Rachel asked. "Empty, musty, travesties of houses. Like mummified bodies, on view because of vulgar curiosity. I don't want to see this place kept like a waxwork long beyond its usefulness, genteelly crumbling at the edges. I want—to be finished with it."

"Or is it yourself you're thinking about?" Stephen demanded. "Is it your own secrets they might find, browsing around in here?"

Rachel looked at him coldly. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"That all of us have private lives, and one day biographers will be delving into them, laying them bare in the name of scholarship. To learn more about Olivia, how she lived, who her family was—that's the lot of us—how she came to be a poet in the first place."

"That's a dreadful thought!" Daniel exclaimed. There were skeletons in his family closet that he wouldn't care to see rattled. Name him an Irishman who didn't have them!

"The price of fame," Susannah said sourly, her fair, pretty face twisting into a grimace. "And an even more cogent reason for stopping them in their tracks. By selling the house. None of us ever expected to live here anyway. Olivia knew that, she could have arranged for her own museum if that was what she truly wanted. She didn't."

There was another silence. Then Cormac, used to board meetings and finding consensus, used to making choices, said, "Right, I take it you're three to one? For the sale of this property? Stephen can do as he pleases with Olivia's personal papers—manuscripts, letters, contracts, and so on. That ought to satisfy inquisitive scholars. Sad to say, I doubt there's much of a literary estate. She was young. And poets aren't ... prolific."

No, Rachel thought, watching him. You've already gone through her papers, haven't you? You were here first. Did you take any of them, I wonder? Were you afraid for your reputation in the City? Or were you merely curious about your stepsister's secrets?

"Livia seldom wrote to any of us," she said aloud. "Or to anyone else, as far as I know. Perhaps Stephen might want whatever letters we've kept of hers? For the collection?" But not Nicholas' letters, not those.

"Did she keep a diary?" Daniel asked, and as every face swiveled to stare at him, he added, "Well, surprising numbers of people do! Lonely people, especially. Invalids—" He stopped.

"No," Stephen said shortly. "I'm sure she didn't."

"You didn't know her any better than the rest of us did," Susannah retorted. "Not after you were grown. She could have kept twelve diaries, and who would have guessed?"

"I came home more often than the rest of you put together!"

"What? Four times a year? At most five? It was uncomfortable here, you know that. She didn't want us to come. She'd made herself a recluse, yes, and Nicholas too, he was as set in his way as she was. And they were only in their middle thirties—it's unnatural!"

"I remember the last time I was here," Daniel said. "You could tell she couldn't wait until we were gone."

"We brought in the real world," Susannah agreed. "Life. She lived in that strange half-world of hers. I never understood why she wrote such bleak poetry. Well, not counting Wings of Fire, of course. Scent of Violets and Lucifer gave me the creeps, I can tell you! But then she was a cripple. They're often dreary people anyway, suffering and wretched. I suppose her mind dwelt on such things."

"She wasn't dreary," Rachel said suddenly. "And she wasn't truly crippled. I think we bored her."

"Don't be silly," Daniel said. "That's ridiculous. Her family?"

"It's true! For the past six or seven years I've had the feeling she didn't need us. That her life was full, that she had all she wanted right here."

"I don't know how Nicholas put up with it all these years," Susannah said, glaring at Rachel. "I'd have gone mad!"

"Livia told me once that he was paying a debt," Stephen remembered out of nowhere. "Odd thing to say, wasn't it? I asked what sort of debt, and she said a debt of blood." He got up and limped over to the drinks table and poured himself another whiskey.

Cormac said, "Oh, for God's sake!" And sat down again, impatient with the lot of them.

"I don't want to stay the night here," Susannah said, looking up at her husband as she changed the subject. "We'll find rooms at The Three Bells."

"Don't be morbid!" Daniel told her. "Mrs. Trepol has already made up our rooms here."


Excerpted from Wings of Fire by Charles Todd. Copyright © 1998 Charles Todd. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Wings of Fire (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Todd has insight into the effects of injury and combat fatigue on soldiers of WWI and their reentry into society in the early part of the 20th century. The story is good and Rutledge's involvement in it is believable without being heavy handed. I'm looking forward to No. 3.
Onthefly More than 1 year ago
A little predictable. Still long winded in conversation. Volume 3 is even better though.
nprfan1 More than 1 year ago
I was less than impressed with Todd's first Ian Rutledge mystery, primarily because his resolution (and the identity of the killer) came quite literally from nowhere. But Todd seems to have hit his stride with his sophomore entry. Rutledge is still on the outs - to put it mildly - with his superior in Scotland Yard, and is sent by him to fulfill a request made by an influential family in Cornwall. Were a series of recent deaths accidental or suicide? Everyone seems to think that they were one or the other, but the more Rutledge finds out the more he becomes convinced that the truth is quite different - and far more sinister - than what the Yard and the locals believe. Unlike the previous novel, the solution to this mystery is completely logical - but there are a lot of false leads and convolutions that didn't let me guess the truth until very close to the end. Rutledge's "alter ego" - Hamish, the Scotsman he had to have shot for cowardice during World War I, and who now "lives" inside Rutledge's head - is somewhat less annoying than in the first entry in this series, but in his way he assists Rutledge in arriving at the truth. I am definitely looking forward to reading more novels in this series, but I wish that Todd would get rid of Bowles, Rutledge's idiot of a superior officer. The man seems to serve no purpose other than to set up the conditions for Rutledge to travel to the scene of the crime, and his personality is nothing short of a pompous ass.
TravelerPS More than 1 year ago
This #2 book about Inspector Rutledge was very intriguing because it had me guessing until the very end of who killed the sister/writer and her brother and a second younger brother. Each clue was placed carefully throughout the book, yet I didn't guess the ending. I never read the ending first, like some readers do. I prefer to work the clues and see if my deduction is what the author intended. It is a pleasure to read of this post WWI time period that has no technology. TV was not invented until the 1940s,so it is not mentioned either. I envision the English countryside as well-described. The book takes me back to a time when people had 'real relationships/people interactions' and worked their gardens as both a hobby and for food production after WWI. A 'must read' for new Charles Todd fans. I have ordered book #3 and plan to read this series. I have read all four of the Bess Crawford books (#5 yet to be released). I know I will enjoy jotting down the Inspector's clues and see if I can 'deduct' his ending as he discovers it also. A great book that was hard to put down! I would recommend this book for a book club discussion group and it is for mystery readers who enjoy intricate details to a plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many characters. Not as compelling as his first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This 2nd Ian Rutledge novel is just as well written as the first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing and characterization merit 5 stars, but the murderer is glaringly obvious very early in the book. So much so that it strains the reader's credulity to believe Rutledge could go so far wrong for such a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
enjoyed all the books I have read in the Inspector Rutledge series - very much
lotto53 More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book. Read all of this writers work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my third Inspector Rutledge crime novel and I have not been disappointed yet. Masterful storytelling by Charles Todd, can’t wait to commence my next read.
Marshrat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While well written, I found this book to be less enjoyable to read than A Test of Wills. The characters' relationships were just confusing enough to make for slow reading for me. I look forward to reading the 3rd book in the series to see how Rutledge develops.
AdonisGuilfoyle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I still like Inspector Rutledge, and will definitely read more of the series, but there is just some vital spark lacking from this mystery. Still considered an embarrassment/potential threat by his superior at Scotland Yard, Rutledge is dispatched to Cornwall to solve an unusual trio of deaths in one family, two suicides and an apparent accident. He learns that one of the suicides was a famous poet whose insightful verse about the war helped Rutledge himself to survive the aftermath of the trenches, and this fact threatens to prejudice his investigation.The formula is there for a great story: the atmosphere and setting of a Du Maurier novel, Christie-esque characters and plotting, and a pitch-perfect reproduction of post-war England, but the tension is stretched too thin. Rutledge is lead to first one conclusion and then another as facts and secrets are revealed, but the clues are paced to intrigue and not confuse the reader - it's just that the resolution could have been tighter. I did finish, because I wanted to confirm my suspicions, but it took more of my time than a book of this size would normally demand.
bezoar44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Second in a long series; better than the first. The main character, an inspector with a split personality as a result of having experienced the horrors of World War I, is more functional and more appealing in this volume. Both books require strenuous suspension of disbelief for the backstories to hang together, but the atmospherics and the sleuthing works. Still some problems with the wrap-up, which doesn't come out of left field this time, but turns back to a solution eliminated with some finality by the inspector -- and, here's the problem, by the authors as well -- much earlier in the story.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
2nd in the Inspector Rutledge of Scotland Yard series, set in post-World War I.Rutledge, having just come back from solving his last case in Warwickshire, is shuffled off to Cornwall by his jealous superior, Bowles, who doesn't want the possibility of Rutledge muscling in on the glory of finding a serial killer. There really isn't a case; a relative of two members of the landed gentry who have committed suicide has asked the Home Office to send an investigator to make sure that all has been handled properly. Rutledge has been assigned what looks like a fool's task so that he is out of London and away from a high-profile case as well as in the hopes that he will fall flat on his face and give Bowles something with which to damage Rutledge's career. Rutledge arrives in Borcombe to find yet another dead body, this time from an accident, and a baffling inability to make any sense out of the family of the suicides and what really might have happened. Was it a double suicide or was it really murder-suicide? Instead of the usual police procedures, Rutledge looks for motive as a way of determining if there was a murder and who, then was the killer.While better than the first book, Test of Wills, Todd still is unable to pull off what has the potential for a very good series. His background--post World War I Great Britain and his incorporation of the horrors of the Great War itself into his plots--is extremely well done. But the psychological approach simply does not come off. Rutledge in his mind is simply too analytical, too self-absorbed to make his character really credible. The voice in his mind, that of his dead corporal Hamish McCloud, which is the physical manifestation of his shell shock, is not well done. Todd can't seem to make up his mind if Hamish is the voice of Rutledge's conscience, his survivor's guilt, or some supernatural manifestation who comments on places and events that Rutledge can not possibly know about. Additionally, Hamish gets the worst writing in the book--he "grumbles" and "rumbles" a great deal, "growls'" too much, and "stirred" too restlessly. The character simply does not work.The minor characters are adequate, although Chief Inspector Bowles is really badly done as the villain--it's a poor imitation of Chief Inspector Racer in Grimes' Richard Jury series; Racer is a wonderful character in his own right, while Bowles is a stick figure.While the plot is good, Todd does some unfortunate things at the end, leaving gaps in the reader's understanding, loose ends that are never tied up, leaving a sense of dissatisfaction with the resolution.Despite its potential, there's just not enough to keep me reading this series.
FicusFan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the Ian Rutledge mystery series. I found the series because it was a choice of my RL Mystery book group. I read the first 2 for the group, but will continue the series on my own because they are well written and interesting.In this story Ian is sent to another village in the country, Cornwall this time. A poet and her brother commit suicide, and then another brother falls down the stairs and dies. Another family member asks a relation, a minor lord in the Home Office (?) to send someone to find out if the deaths were really what they seem. The family is age old local gentry, and the poet was famous for her war poetry, though she used an assumed name.Ian is sent by his superior Bowles, who is trying to sabotage him. Sent without all the information, Ian and his haunt/illness Hamish, a lasting present from WWI, are supposed to discretely determine if murder is afoot.Hamish is the sergeant that Ian executed at the front for refusing to advance. He has been verbally 'haunting' Ian since he woke up in the hospital. Ian suffered from shell shock after being buried alive in a bomb blast in a trench at the front. Ian keeps Hamish a secret, otherwise he would be judged crazy and sent back to the hospital.Hamish is angry and vindictive and tries to upset Ian, but sometimes he forgets and actually helps Ian with his detection. The reader is never sure if Hamish is part of Ian's diseased mind, or is really a separate entity haunting Ian (a bit of fantasy). Ian is very rattled to learn the dead poet was a woman, since he found that she was spot on about being at war and on the battlefield. The poet a woman, and a cripple, was never at the front even in a supporting capacity, so how does she come by her knowledge ?This story is a very tangled one about the most recent generation of the family in question. The mother married 3 times and had multiple children and a step son. Those remaining alive are suspects that Ian has to question, but they are all outraged (except for the secret requester) that the police are involved. The locals also have knowledge of the family secrets and wish to protect them. Ian finds that he has to look into many more than 3 family deaths, all while not upsetting the family and the locals.I really liked it, even more than the first book. The only problem is towards then end the list of suspects is dwindling, and Ian makes a statement that gives it away. Good writing, great characters, wonderful setting, and an intricate plot, just a great read.
ckNikka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a poet... a murder... a family with a dark past... siblings who don't like each other... all the elements of a good English mystery... plus a main character who still fights his inner demons from the horrors of WWI and the trenches
kaulsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My reasons for choosing this mystery can be laid at Kinsey Millhone's door: she is constantly reminding us how much she enjoys Ian Rutledge mysteries.It wasn't until I re-met Hamish that I remembered [The Red Door]--one of the first books I ever read for EarlyReviewers.The book didn't let me go, even after I figured out "who dunnit," but it is not a book I would choose to read a second time. I suppose I will give Charles Todd one more chance and see how I feel after that one!
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A more assured second outing for a mystery series that is becoming an addiction! This is a very well-written novel that happens to have a mystery at its center. The role of Hamish-the-voice is a little skimpier this time, not quite as loud on the page; I'm not sure that's entirely to my liking, but I think it's probably the best way to treat that difficult character. He could be a very great distraction, used too freely, though I find him fascinating...sleuth and sidekick only need one body!I'm always interested in stories set in Cornwall, as this one is. It's such a different place, one that doesn't seem quite like England but undeniably is; it's so isolated (in English terms) from the main flow of the country that it seems to have all the advantages of being foreign...mystery, exoticism...without the inconvenience of learning a foreign language. Necessarily, that is, since a determined (an American would say "bloody-minded") effort is underway to "save" the Cornish tongue.Inspector Ian Rutledge's work in this small Cornish village, whose Hall has seen three rapidly succesive deaths, is to determine with his London experience whether the local force did its job properly in ruling the deaths accidental or suicides. You can imagine that puts the backs up of pretty much the entire village as the news spreads! No one likes his territory big-footed across by the Big Noise from the City. It's just never a popular thing, and as the newsvine spreads the fact that it's a member of the Hall family...a cousin...who called in the Londoner, feeling runs even higher.Todd examines how people, no matter their connection to events, respond to them with fierce passion. A simple childhood slight, an accident of observation, a detail changed by a fearful witness in a larger plan...all these play their role in creating and then sustaining a mystery that has at its heart the simplest of human motivations: Envy. Coming fresh off the Great War, this trope has special poignance, since it was largely the German Kaiser's envy of his cousins that set the conflict in motion.I would recommend reading these books in order. I hope you'll give them a shot. They're good psychological novels that happen to come in a series and feature the same protagonist(s). Gladly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lives up to Todd's previous work. Engaging read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everything a good mystery should be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even better than the first I think.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The storyline was interesting and the ending was amazing.