Rave Reviews by Jean E. Eustance September 2021

I have read several of the Ian Rutledge books by Charles Todd. We have some of them in the Pine Bush Area Public Library. The newest one is A Fatal Lie.  In it, Inspector Rutledge, of Scotland Yard, is dispatched to Wales because a man has been found dead in a river, in 1921. The Chief Superintendent is keen to get Ian Rutledge out from under his feet, and Wales (in the rain) seems just the place to send him.

Ian Rutledge is a veteran of the Great War—they have not had World War II yet, so no one calls the first one, World War I. They also do not call the problem Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, they call it Shell Shock.  But Ian does not want anyone to know that he has shell shock—and a voice in his head. In the Great War, he had to have one of his soldiers killed because Hamish would not lead the men “over the top” once more, and Hamish refused an order, and died. Now Ian Rutledge cannot get rid of him.  He can’t see Hamish, but he can hear him, standing behind him saying, “Ware!” for “Beware!” as in, “Get down, you idiot!” And occasionally Ian gets down in time, and sometimes he doesn’t, as on page 204 when someone crowns him with a crowbar.

Our Hero has a tendency to find things out—things that are not wanted. The doctor tells him that the man in the river probably fell from the aqueduct, the bridge that carries the canal across the river’s ravine. Ian traces a tattoo and a label on a shirt, and identifies the man, and finds his widow and a failing pub that is eating up all the money, over the border in England.  And that is when the plot thickens.  There is a missing child, and one lie after another, and another and another until you cannot tell which one would be the Fatal Lie.

The Ian Rutledge series (this title is number 23) is gritty and realistic. It is a little too detailed and realistic for my taste. I usually read whatever book in the series I’m at, quite eagerly for a day and half, and then I bog down. I like a little more humor than I find here, and Hamish seems to be the only thing that’s near being humorous—which is pretty sad when you think about it.  I find the series ghastly and gritty, sad and sordid, and filled with shadows.  If you like your murder mysteries long, heavy and drenched with rain, you will probably like A Fatal Lie.  Read it.  And better you than me.

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