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First Sentence: He’d tried to put the war behind him.

A sniper killer at Ely Cathedral takes Inspector Ian Rutledge to Cambridgeshire. A separate shooting in a different village does have a witness, but her testimony makes no real sense. The biggest barrier to Rutledge’s investigation is the apparent lack of motive in either case and lack of connection between the two victims. With the third shooting, and a target who survives, Rutledge starts looking to the past for both the motive, and for the killer.

The opening chapter is rather different and unusual, but completely engrossing. Todd’s descriptions are wonderfully atmospheric.

It’s very nice that an accounting of Hamish is offered that both explains him to new readers yet doesn’t interrupt the flow for recurring readers. Much focus is given to Rutledge, yet it’s not boring or repetitive. He is a fascinating character about whom we want to know more. His relapse into a flashback of the war is very effective and painful without being overly description. The understanding of the rector made the scene all that more powerful for its subtly. His dealing with his shell shock/PTSD is a tragic thread which connects the series and other characters of whom there are many who’ve suffered the effects of war.

Sometimes, it is the little things that matter. It’s nice that, with all the driving to-and-fro Rutledge does, we finally having him stopping for petrol occasionally.

“Hunting Shadows” is a good read. While one appreciates the doggedness of Rutledge’s investigation and the way he puts the information together in order to identify the killer, I didn’t feel a particularly strong connection to any character other than Rutledge, and wishing I had.

HUNTING SHADOWS (Hist Mys-Insp. Ian Rutledge-England-1920) – Good
Todd, Charles – 16th in series
William Morrow, 2014
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on 11 February 2015
4.5/5 I absolutely love Charles Todd's Bess Crawford series, but funnily enough I've only read one or two of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries. And I'm not sure why, as I really enjoyed Hunting Shadows, the 16th entry in this series.

Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard is called in by the local constabulary when they are stymied by not one, but two murders - both perpetrated by a sniper. The two victims are completely disparate and it's up to Rutledge to find the common denominator - and the killer.

Todd writes wonderful historical mysteries - the times, the social customs and mores, the language and more are just lovely to immerse yourself in. It's a gentler time, but it's also coloured by the aftermath of World War 1. (Hunting Shadows is set in 1920) Shell shock (what we now call PTSD) plays a part in both the plot and with our main character. Rutledge often converses with Hamish, a dead soldier from Rutledge's past.

I enjoyed and savoured the slow building of the case. Finding clues, conducting interviews, visiting scenes - it's all done in a measured manner that is just a treat to read. Yes, it's a murder mystery, but it's such a rich, atmospheric read on top of that. There's so much detail in Todd's prose, bringing the time period, the settings and the supporting cast to life.

The final whodunit is a satisfying end to some excellent plotting - one a reader will not guess beforehand. Definitely recommended.
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on 16 April 2015
These novels have so many errors which shows a lack of knowledge of UK history and sloppy research. In this novel, set in 1920, a woman discusses who she may vote for in a parliamentary election!! Women got the vote here in 1928. In a previous book a child asks for ten pence as a tip. Not even correct about currency of the time or how much it would translate to in those days.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 January 2014
If you've not already been introduced to the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries the 16th entry in this exceptional series, Hunting Shadows, is a good place to start. Written by a mother/son writing team using the pen name Charles Todd these books are widely recognized as one of the best historical series being written today and for this reader the latest considerably raises the bar.

A little background for those who have not yet had the pleasure: Todd has created a sympathetic, compelling protagonist in Inspector Rutledge of Scotland Yard. He's a shell-shocked veteran of World War I who is haunted by the voice of Hamish, a man under his command whom he was forced to order executed. Rutledge is intrepid, highly intelligent and doesn't suffer fools lightly.

Hunting Shadows is richly atmospheric taking place in Scotland's Fen country where water has apparently separated the populace, even those in a village ten miles away are considered foreigners. Dense fog shrouds the landscape and seems to cloak the inhabitants as well as lending to a sense of isolation.

When local law enforcement is stumped by two murders Scotland Yard is called in - Rutledge is also almost baffled. The deaths appear to be unrelated. A sniper first shot Captain Hutchinson as he was entering a church for a wedding (walking too close to the groom for comfort?). The second death was that of Herbert Swift, a Tory candidate for Parliament - he was relieved of his head just as he was beginning an outdoor campaign speech.

No one saw anything or heard anything save for a woman who claims to have seen the face of a monster in a window immediately before Swift was shot. As time passes Scotland Yard presses for answers and no one would like to find them more than Rutledge.

With a seamlessly constructed complex plot deftly written and a unique unforgettable lead character Hunting Shadows is mystery writing at its finest.

- Gail Cooke
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on 9 November 2014
I am going against the trend of the glowing reviews but I have to sound a note of caution to people who may think this is going to be a police procedural set in 1920. I could forgive the absurdities if I had been able to detect any element at all of tongue in cheek but as I could not I have to assume this is meant to be taken at face value.

The underlying theme seems to be the ongoing effect on men who fought in the 1914-18 war but it is hung on the profession of the main protagonist, Inspector Ian Rutledge. If the author is going to hang the plot on a policeman's work, I do think he ought to operate like a policeman.

This plot hardly qualifies as a police investigation. I could not suspend my disbelief and therefore found the investigation side of the story unsatisfactory. His methods would suit a private investigator but I really cannot believe in him as a policeman. If you think you can suspend disbelief sufficiently then I will say it is not bad with lots of intricate plot lines.

The inspector works alone, no detective sergeant to note the evidence, no detective constable to do the leg work. He occasionally sends enquiries to a sergeant at Scotland Yard but it's all a bit half-hearted. There is no driving force to the investigation which would be odd in any murder but it is especially odd when one victim was shot at a society wedding and another was a local solicitor and prospective member of Parliament.

There is surprisingly little resentment from the local police about the fact that "the Yard" has been called in and yet the sole detective works alone and takes his time.

The place of the sidekick that all fictional detectives need, usually filled by a real-life sergeant, is taken by the voice of a fellow soldier Hamish who died in the war. Even his contributions are confined to the occasional observation. If Rutledge is going to discuss his theories with anyone it seems to be with potential suspects and he seems to make a point of never discussing them with his fellow officers which was the most extraordinary aspect of all.

Hamish's purpose or even the reason for his being there in Rutledge's mind, were not clear at all. I do not think it is enough simply to say that Rutledge is haunted by the war without showing how this actually manifests itself. References to nightmares and saying that he cannot see relatives because they will be able to tell, are not enough in my view. Perhaps it is known to readers of the earlier novels but this novel really should be able to stand on its own and in that respect it doesn't.

Rutledge hardly came off the page for me but to the extent that he did he seemed to be coping pretty well with whatever he had suffered during the war and the implication that somehow he was not made no sense to this reader.

I can see that the authors wanted to explore the effects of shell shock but unfortunately their framework leads them into absurdities.


Rutledge's habit of working alone leads to farce at the end rather than tension. He is already going around interviewing witnesses in company with his main suspect and he doesn't bother to place him in police custody. He then realises there is another major suspect whom he then questions and tells the new suspect not only that he killed the wrong people but who the right person was. Our new suspect coshes him on the head and steals his car so Rutledge and his other suspect commandeer another car (a Rolls of course) and set off in pursuit to London. No thought of calling his police colleagues until there are two more dead bodies. One of the witnesses queries why he is asking her to send for the police saying that he is the police. Well, quite.

The reason for the murders lies in some long-hidden secrets arising, so far as I can see, from the British class structure. None of that rang true to this British reader and it was utterly implausible that the marriage would have been kept secret. The lady was a widow and independent and I cannot believe that she would have felt it necessary to hide her marriage and give away her child. In any event, the nature of village life would have meant everyone would have known about the relationship and it would have been worse if people thought they were not married.
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HUNTING SHADOWS is the sixteenth entry in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series of historical British mysteries, penned by the New York Times bestselling "Charles Todd." Which is actually the American mother/son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd, who are resident on the east coast of the United States, in the states of Delaware and North Carolina respectively. "Todd" is also author of the newish Bess Crawford British historical mystery series. All the crime novels appear to be based in Great Britain; the Crawford series during World War I, the Rutledge series shortly afterward. HUNTING SHADOWS follows on Proof of Guilt  in the Rutledge series.

A society wedding at Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire's fen country has become a crime scene when a guest is murdered. Another body is found later. Scotland Yard is called in. The case appears to lead back to disturbed servicemen returned from the blood-soaked killing field that was World War I. This brings up painful memories for Inspector Rutledge as well; he too has returned from the war with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD) as we now know it , shell shock as it was called then: Rutledge carries on constant conversation with Hamish, his young Scottish sergeant, whom he felt forced to kill on the battlefield.

This time out, the authors have given us some powerful flashback scenes from the French front, though it's clear they cannot render wartime with the intensity of novelists who specialize in it. "Todd" also has done well at giving us the atmosphere of post war England, the social uproar caused by the war. The author(s) are excellent on England's landscape, weather, historic cities and towns, residents and police, former soldiers back home. The writers' portrait of the fens is particularly well-done, atmospheric and evocative; so is their portrait of the lonely souls who occupy that watery landscape. Dialog and narrative are fine; the plot is complex in a satisfactory way. In fact, the plot is pulled together, organized well, in line with the rules that govern this kind of writing, and kept me turning pages and guessing to the end.

The Todd books may well continue to pleasurably remind many readers of the popular British television series Downton Abbey - Series 1-4 , which is set in the same time, and world. I have previously read and reviewed, in these pages, The Confession ,A Matter of Justice  and The Red Door in the Rutledge series. I like this one the best by far. The actual Charles Todd has come to speak several times at the local Wilmington, North Carolina's library mystery weekends. He's an attractive youngish man, intelligent and witty, and I'm happy to see him and his Mum hitting their stride.
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on 30 October 2014
Another excellent Charles Todd. Love his Ian Rutledge series
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on 4 November 2014
I collect this authors books they are enjoyable
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on 26 March 2014
Now this is what I call an excellent addition to the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series. It was set up exactly the way I prefer my mysteries. The plot and the investigation took center stage without the distractions of trying to involve Rutledge in a romance and Hamish McLoed was present, but only minimally. If you prefer to read about Rutledge fighting the psychological battle of the presence of Hamish in his mind or if you want to read of romantic attachments for the main characters you might not be quite as pleased as I was.

Scotland Yard is called in when two murders take place within a two week period in the Fen country of England. The time is August and September of 1920, so almost every incident which takes place has some relation to the recently ended war. In this case a rifle is being used to kill men who seem to have absolutely no connection with each other. There is a new Acting Chief superintendent at Scotland Yard and he is impatient with the slow progress Rutledge is making in the two cases, but he also doesn't take into consideration how tangled the relationships are between all the concerned parties and how deeply the secrets are buried. Rutledge solves the problem of how to deal with his boss by simply staying away from London.

The writing in this novel is absolutely first class. Reading the description of the fog Rutledge runs into on his journey from London was so realistic it almost made me claustrophobic myself! Especially when I looked out my own windows and saw everything coated with ice and nothing moving about except the freezing rain. Talk about the right weekend to read this book! I thought I had figured out who the killer was after reading about a lot of investigating by Rutledge and I wasn't even disappointed when I found out I had been following the red herring the authors set for me to follow. For me this was the best Charles Todd novel I've read in quite some time and it was a pure pleasure to read it. The atmosphere is outstanding, the plotting is outstanding, and the investigative process used by Rutledge is outstanding. A five star reading experience. If you are new to this series, you can begin here and completely understand everything that is important to the series. If you like period mysteries, I think this writing team one of the best.
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on 14 May 2016
Love to read these novels.....
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