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A Cold Treachery by Charles Todd

On the Road with Rutledge

I started reading the Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery series this winter – and I am thoroughly addicted. I have just finished #7 A Cold Treachery – and it is the best yet. I’ve got the next couple in by bag for a long road trip next week. If I didn’t have to read some “real” books I’d be reading the series right through to the end. What I also love about these books is that they take place in a time before cell phones, computers and GPS. The detective’s only device is his BRAINS!

A Cold Treachery finds Ian Rutledge in the north of England where a truly terrible crime has been committed. A family of 5 is dead – one child may have survived and escaped – and he may or may not be the murderer. The family was a blended one – a farmer and his wife who came to him with her two children, they had two more together. When Rutledge arrives on the scene there seem to be as many credible suspects as they were victims. This is a small isolated community, deep in a valley between the looming hills, there are far more sheep than people. No one wants to believe it was anyone local who would have done such a terrible thing. The few residents who do not have a long line of local ancestors behind them are suspect. I’ll not tell you any more – but I know you’ll not easily be able to put this book aside until you come to the end and all is revealed.

You’ll come to know, if you read this series, that Rutledge has returned from the First World War a damaged man. He struggles with the affect of all he that has seen, he knows loss. The authors, a mother and son team, Charles and Caroline Todd, have made him so very human and created a character who has compassion for others, both victims and criminals. In the second book in the series, Wings of Fire, another character, a Chaplain who served in France, talks to Rutledge about those who died. “They’ll never grow old – never feel fear or cold, hunger or pain, or the sorrows of lost love or the pity of the young. While they have missed much, these men who won’t see their sons in their mothers’ arms, or the moon over a summer sea, or the beauty of a rose, they have what we all look for In the end – eternal springtime. It is not their grief but ours that haunts us”.

And how can you not love a book that teaches you something as interesting as the fact that the map of England “resembled a man in a top hat riding a running pig”. This in Watchers of the Night, “the top hat was the northern part of Scotland – the Highlands. The man’s head and body were the Lowlands and the Midlands of England. The pig’s head was Wales, its front feet the Cornish peninsula, its hind feet the downs of Kent. And its rump was East Anglia, the great bulge of Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk jutting out into the North Sea toward the Low Countries.” Rutledge and his school friends found this sealed in their memories forever.


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