In 1919, a former soldier, Mowbray, abruptly wants off the train in the small town of Singleton Magda in Dorset. The weary-looking vet swears he has seen his wife and children with another man. Not too long after that incident, that same woman is found dead and her two children missing. An incoherent, except for obviously being suicidal, Mowbray is arrested for murder.
The local police force requests Scotland Yard assists them in finding the missing children. Inspector Rutledge, also a vet, is sent to investigate. Rutledge has his own problems as he has the voice of Hamish Macleod, a Scottish deserted he personally executed, living inside his own head. As Rutledge begins his inquiries, he encounters several other souls still struggling to recover from the horrors of the war. At the same time, he begins to wonder if Mowbray actually committed the crime.
The third Inspector Rutledge novel, SEARCH THE DARK, continues in the fine tradition of its predecessors by serving up a complex entertaining mystery as well as insight into the aftermath of war. The story lien sheds light on the period through the eyes of its characters, especially Rutledge. The secondary cast illuminates post World War I England with psychological insight into the various victims of the armed conflict. However, what makes Charles Todd's latest book and series so good is the historical mystery provides the proper counterpoint to the gloomy atmosphere that threatens to engulf everyone.