Review of A Lonely Death: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (by Charles Todd)

A Lonely Death: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery is the 13th book in Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge Series set in post WWI England. Ian Rutledge works for Scotland Yard as a Detective after his return from the battlefields in France. In this book, the story begins Rutledge is called from the funeral of a close friend to the village of Eastfield. There have been a series of murders in the village and the victims are all returned servicemen who have been garroted and left with an identity disc in their mouth. The strange nature of crimes and the fact that murderer seems to seek more and more victims urges Inspector Rutledge to find a commonality between the murder victims. He has to dive into the past lives of the victims hoping to find at least something to reveal the identity of the killer.

There is also a secondary storyline featuring a cold case which Chief Inspector Cummins is pursuing. Cummins is retiring and as he cleans out his desk shares details of a murder committed on Midsummer’s Eve in 1905 at Stonehenge. Rutledge is gripped by the tale and tries to attack this second case as well while he attempts to solve the murders in Eastfield Village.

Rutledge must also deal with the suicide of a close friend, the imminent death of another friend and saying goodbye to a possible love interest. None of these elements are fully developed and what could have been heartrending storytelling is in the end rather flat. Couple all these story lines with Rutledge running hither and yon about the countryside, across the water and back and you have a rather disjointed mess.

I forgot to mention earlier that Inspector Rutledge series feature another character named Hamish. Hamish is the ghost of Rutledge’s executed Corporal, who talks to him and suggests ideas about the cases he is handling. The ghost shows up in this story as well and in particular, there is a funny scene in the book when  Rutledge and some policemen get into a car to go somewhere and a comment was made that there was no room for Hamish.

Overall, this is a good read. I think the first three books in the series are much better pieces of work. In A Lonely Death, the secondary storyline and many details are not necessary and now that they are introduced, the expectation is that they should have been developed more. Hamish is not fully introduced and might be confusing for the readers who this is their first book in the series. The post WWI setting is kind of different from typical crime books in the market so you might want to take a look at this one.

I have brought the link to this book plus the first three books in the series below in the case you are interested (For Amazon Link click on the images).