Recently a friend recommended a new author to me. The genre was historical fiction, specifically a historical fiction mystery. I do so love these and devour them happily. However, there was something additionally intriguing about this author. Charles Todd is the author. This is a good name for a historical fiction writer. Charles Todd, as a name, inspires confidence. You instinctively trust someone named Charles Todd to know his history. You’re sure this was the name of your eighth grade history teacher, and you voraciously ate up everything he taught you (wink wink). However, Charles Todd is not a man. Charles Todd is not a woman (not another George Eliot). Charles Todd is a man and a woman. Even more interesting, Charles Todd is a mother and son writing team.
Yes, pictures of my mom and brother sitting down to pour over historical research and discuss plot lines shot through my head too. Hysterical and highly unrealistic. At least it would be for my family. However, after reading this book I must say that this mother/son team do it, and do it well. I will be coming back for more.
It is 1919 and the war has just been won. World War One that is. Ian Rutledge, recently returned from the trenches, has taken up his post at Scotland Yard once again. We only get the tip of the iceberg in regards to Ian’s back story in this novel (yes there are more thank goodness). We are teased with the fact that he, like many men of that day, is struggling with what they called ‘shell shock’. This is his first case back on the job, and he is desperate to prove himself. His boss is just as desperate for him to fail.
He is sent to Warwickshire to investigate the death of a very popular Colonel. Apparently this guy was so well liked, no one would have wanted him dead. However, the one suspect with a hint of a motive, and the best opportunity, is a well decorated fighter pilot from the war. This man has spent time as the guest of the royal family. This could be problematic.
The history is great. I’m not all that familiar with WWI and its aftermath. I know much more about WWII, so it was interesting for me to get a glimpse of what England was like and how people thought and felt at the time. Also, the mystery itself was put together well. I was all over the map with my ideas and assumptions, but was still surprised at the end. I only just saw it coming at the very last-minute. Love that!