Wednesday, January 17

A False Mirror by Charles Todd

Review by Theodore Feit


In A False Mirror, ninth in this series written by a mother and son writing team, Inspector Rutledge continues to be haunted by his experiences in the trenches in France during the First World War.  An unusual co-protagonist is the "ghost" of a corporal executed for failure to follow orders in the conflict to whom the inspector supplied the coup de grace; he continually speaks to Rutledge with warnings and advice.


Rutledge is summoned from London to a southern English seaside hamlet when a man he has no respect for, a lieutenant who served under him in France, takes as hostage a  woman to whom he was formerly engaged in an attempt to stave off arrest for an assault on her husband.  He professes innocence and the local police have him targeted as the culprit.   He seeks the inspector's aid in finding the real attacker.


The emotional strains on all the characters is overwhelming, especially on Rutledge, suffering from shell shock and his own lost love when he left for France.  Not only does he have to overcome his own demons affecting his objectivity, but must also find the person responsible for the attack as well as a careful and methodical murderer of two persons.


I'm sorry to have discovered this series so late in the game because it is so interestingly written and characterized that I suspect its predecessors are equally well-drawn.  Well, better late than never, there are always eight others to turn to.


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