I was first caught up in Jacqueline Winspear's mysteries, such as Maisie Dobbs and An Incomplete Revenge, exploring the world of a nurse, turned private investigator, who suffered shell shock during World War I. When I read Charles Todd's Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, I discovered a different view of the after affects of the Great War. The latest book in the series, A Pale Horse, examines the feeling of guilt.
Rutledge himself spent 1914-1918 fighting in France, and he brought back terrible memories, including that of the death of a man named Hamish, who haunts Rutledge, and speaks to him. This series, and A Pale Horse, cannot be discussed without mentioning Rutledge's past. His experiences color his investigations.
A Pale Horse opens in the ruins of an abbey, where a group of schoolboys took their schoolmaster's alchemy book to try to raise the devil. When then discovered a dead man, wearing a gas mask and a black cape, they fled in fear, swearing not to talk about it. The local police immediately latched onto the schoolmaster as their suspect.
However, Scotland Yard has an unusual request from the War Office. A man went missing in Berkshire, and Inspector Rutledge is sent to check out his disappearance. It doesn't take long for him to determine the boys know something about the dead man, and that man may be Rutledge's missing person. Despite these first steps, Rutledge's case is complicated by the lack of knowledge about Partridge, his missing person. And, the people who lived near Partridge are eager to keep their own secrets, so they want no part of the case.
Throughout this complicated investigation, Rutledge encounters people unwilling to acknowledge relationships or reveal secrets. The Great War left many people with guilt, including Rutledge himself. The book's stories tell of the guilt of the people who fought, and those who didn't, those who tried to end the war by extraordinary means, and those who suffered as a consequence. It tells of the pain of people who forced to take action, such as Rutledge, and the guilt and memories they suffer. A Pale Horse is a powerful story of the past, and the people who continue to suffer as a result of war, and, as a result of lack of understanding of the past.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.