I have been reading Todd’s later creation, the Bess Crawford mysteries and decided to check out his first offering from 1996, one Ian Rutledge recently returned from the trenches of France and to his old job at Scotland Yard. While Nurse Bess solves mysteries during the Great War, Inspector Rutledge solves them after the war.
His first case was thrust on him because it was considered political suicide. The leading suspect was not only a war hero, but he also received his medals from King George at the palace. The victim was a greatly respected Colonel, also back from the war who was the Guardian of the woman who planned to marry the hero/suspect.
To complicate the investigation, Rutledge has to deal with his own unique case of shell shock–PTSD today. One of the leading witnesses is himself shell-shocked, so badly that he spends hours in the streets directing soldiers to the front trenches as shells only he can see and hear explode around him.
This story is much more about Inspector Rutledge than it is the murder. He was once the pride of the Yard, but can he even do a simple task without ending up beside the man directing traffic?
Do not expect clues to hang on every page. Rutledge struggles, seeing clues dimly without knowing their meaning. He doubts himself at every turn, but he will not be defeated.
This book is not as polished as his later work, but it is a good read about an important time in human experience. I look forward to Wings of Fire.