Merrimon Book Reviews

Spanish flu ward, 1918

An aerial view of the Somme battlefield in July, taken from a British balloon

Troops "going over the top" at the start of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

From Merrimon Book Reviews
A Lonely Death
A Lonely Death by Charles Todd
by Charles Todd

As his career comes to a close, Chief Inspector Cummins confides in Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge the details of the one unsolved case that has haunted him from years.  Then, three men are discovered murdered in Sussex.  Each World War I veteran has a wooden identity disc in his mouth and each has been garrotted.  Inspector Rutledge is called in to help solve this perplexing case.  Rutledge searches the past of each victim in an effort to discover any links between them.  The clues just do not add up and some seem determined to hide the past.  Will Rutledge be able to solve all the clues while protecting other veterans, all who might be the killer's next victim?  Will this case become his own haunting unsolvable case?

In A LONELY DEATH, mother-son author team Charles Todd takes readers into the post-World War I time period with a perfect blend of historical detail and insights into the timeless evil and murderous secrets that fill a man's soul throughout any age.  Several twists and perspectives on the past keep Rutledge determined to uncover the mysterious motive while the possibility of future murders quickens the necessity of solving the case quickly.  A LONELY DEATH gives insights into the effects of World War I on the men and women who served or had family members who did.  A veteran himself, Inspector Rutledge himself suffers in the form of hearing the voice of Hamish, a man whose death troubled him. 

A LONELY DEATH opens the series for newcomers.   Rutledge's past as well as Hamish's presence are more seamlessly interwoven within the mystery and narrative than in the previous novel, THE RED DOOR.  In some ways, the mystery despite being set in the past, has a modern and even news topical appeal that will appeal to both mystery lovers and historical mystery lovers.   More attention given to the integration or explanation of one of the clues, even though a red herring, would have made this a more stunning mystery after the final page.   If you are new to the series, A LONELY DEATH is a good place to start.  If you are looking for a richer, more mysterious mystery as mystery, A RED DOOR would be this reader's choice although the subplots and characterization in A LONELY DEATH are more accessible as a stand alone read. 

Nevertheless, A LONELY DEATH is highly recommended to followers of the series and to newcomers.   A LONELY DEATH is also highly recommended to mystery lovers who have not yet taken the plunge into the historical mystery sub-genre.  However one approaches this novel,  A LONELY DEATH will leave a reader anxious for the next.  As historical mystery, Charles Todd is a must read not only for the mysteries but for the author's ability to take a reader straight into the time period and her characters.  Charles Tood finds the perfect balance between outer description of time and place and a more inward, psychological description of the world within her characters.  The author has the ability to write passages that leave a reader stunned at the author's ability to peer into the souls of men.  A LONELY DEATH is no exception.  The passage drawing distinction between the murderer and Rutledge will haunt a reader long after the novel's end.  Brilliant!

Publisher: William Morrow (January 4, 2011)
An Inspector Rutledge Mystery
Author website
Other Inspector Rutledge Mysteries: A Test of Wills, Wings of Fire, Search the Dark, Watchers of Time, Legacy of the Dead, A Fearsome Doubt, A Cold Treachery, A Long Shadow, A False Mirror, A Pale Horse, A Matter of Justice, The Red Door

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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