Most helpful positive review
Doubting one's self as a cop is NOT good.
on September 16, 2003
I always enjoy Charles Todd's mysteries. They are so well-written, and the history of the time period after WWI is so interesting. It's hard to realize in this day and age, with America's 'war' with Iraq, how lucky we are. We as a nation will not forget those who died over in Iraq, and whether we question the President's reason for going to war or not, Saddam had to be dealt with. What is important is the number of men (and women) now who have died in this war is so small compared to the thousands of boys who died in WWI. And those who came home, were many times mortally wounded in the mind, and spent their lives like that. This is not to glorify any war, or deny that families are hurting now, but we need to remind ourselves how nasty WWI was, with the trenches, mustard gas, sarin, and the mud. I can only pray that we never go back to the days of wars like that, or the Vietnam War, and that we value our men and women who gave so much now. Todd's writing is a good reminder of how absolutely horrid that war was, and how many people were hurt. England fought to recover from the loss of an entire generation of young men, and the way the war ended was by mutual truce...but also it left Germany in such a way as to make it ready for someone like Hitler.
Back then there was little understanding of 'shell-shock', or what is now known as post-traumatic stress disorder. These men were expected to come home and take up their lives as if nothing had happened, because so little was understood about the psychological impact of this nasty time period. That Rutledge has to deal with Hamish, a Scot he had to have shot because he refused to send young boys out to be killed on the basis of rich/powerful men behind the lines playing these guys like they were a board game...it is not that unbelieveable that Rutledge has this 'ghost' with him always.
In this case Rutledge is doing better. It's been a year since the truce, and all of the sudden a woman whose husband was hung prior to the war due to his committing murders...she comes to Rutledge with what she calls proof as to his innocence. The major charge against capital punishment is the fact that too many innocent men have been put on death row by prejudice or accident. Rutledge is horrified by the idea that he might have sent a man to his death who was innocent. This in connection with another set of murders in the present day (of 1919) of veterans of war, has Rutledge torn in different directions. The fact that he holds down his fear and doubt of himself, to successful get through to the truth in both cases, and deal with a German whose face he is familiar with and thought was dead, is indication that Rutledge is finally coping with his life after the war.
A good, intelligent read (which is often to hard to find nowdays...)