August 1919: Inspector Rutledge of Scotland Yard is sent to Dorset to coordinate the search for two missing children and finds himself drawn to a French war bride whose loneliness mirrors his own.
On his way to Lyme Regis to search for work, Bert looks out of the train window in a town called Singleton Magna, and sees an unbelievable sight--his wife and two children who he thought were killed in a London bombing raid. He leaps off the train and tries to find his family, racing desperately across fields and country roads, and finally winding up asleep under a tree. Meanwhile, the battered body of a woman is found on the edge of a cornfield, and Mowbray is arrested. Is the woman his wife? Did he kill her? And what happened to the two children who were with her?
Everywhere Rutledge looks, he shows us various forms of damage caused by the war--from the hopes of a local girl whose lover returned with a French wife, to the trauma that Mowbray is going through. As in the first two books, A Test of Wills and Wings of Fire, Todd demonstrates the massive damage done to an entire country by focusing on the small, personal battles of the survivors. --Dick Adler
This is British procedural writing at it's best. Todd has not suffered from second or third book syndrome. His writing is precise and concise - each word chosen with care. Rutledge contunues to be a tortured soul who is a compassionate and intelligent investigator. Todd's ending surprised me, but that just makes for good reading.
If you enjoy procedurals, make sure you read this series. If you've wanted to try a procedural, but didn't know where to begin, begin with this one - all others will pale by comparison.
Rutledge keeps quiet concerning his shadow presence, Hamish. The world was a lot less forgiving of mental illness back in those decades then it is even now. Hamish's presence in these books apparently bothers some readers, yet it is partly his presence which differentiates these books from others of this genre. Those who have studied psychiatry and neuroscience are aware of the different coping mechanisms used by those exposed to massive trauma, and few wars have dealt out the type of trauma the young men from England were exposed to during WWI.
The plot of this book is another ripple effect of the war. Those who made it back alive, not always made it back whole...even if their bodies appeared unscathed. And the impact of the war touched all of those families and towns, including the women. Many families, mothers and wives who expected a return to normality, were asked to deal with sons and husbands who returned with massive psychological problems. Many of them had to deal with these problems on their own without professional help, and also find a way to provide for their families.
Todd does an excellent job of writing.Read more ›