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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The characters and atmosphere are what made the 10th book in this series a success for me., 4 Mar 2010
This review is from: A Pale Horse: A Novel of Suspense (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) (Paperback)
After having read many other books written by the "Charles Todd" team of writers it might be possible for me to become tired of the characters portrayed. Luckily, that has not happened. This particular book in the series does have some small problems, but for the most part I am so interested in the life of the main character, Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge, that I find I am willing to overlook those problems in favor of the enjoyment I receive from the story as a whole. The novel takes place in 1920, only several years after the fighting stopped in World War I. Rutledge has, as his constant reminder of that war, the voice in his mind of a soldier whom he ordered to be executed for refusing to obey a direct order under combat conditions. It remains a balancing act for Rutledge to function without allowing anyone to realize how much influence the voice of Hamish has over him.

Rutledge is sent on a watching brief for the Army because someone they are keeping an eye on has disappeared. Rutledge has nothing to go on because the Army isn't talking and Chief Superintendent Bowles doesn't want any feathers ruffled. Rutledge drives to the tiny village in Berkshire which sits practically beneath the chalk horse carved into the hillside, not far from Uffington. It is clearly impossible for him to remain unobserved by the other eight residents of the enclave of cottages. All of these people have chosen to isolate themselves, even from the villagers, because of hidden secrets in their lives. After several days Rutledge returns to London, only to be sent immediately to a village in Yorkshire where an unidentified man has been found, presumably the victim of a murder.

Some of the problems I had with this particular book were because all eight of the tenants of the cottages played such a large part in the mystery. That turned out to be quite a few people to keep track of. And the crime in Yorkshire also had many characters attached to it and they also added to some of the confusion. I have to say that I still don't fully understand why the character living in the cottage beneath the pale horse was committing the crimes there. Evidently I haven't fully grasped the explanation and will need to go back and read that part over again. As for the happenings in the Yorkshire area, I enjoyed that much more. That situation involved other members of the police force acting in self-serving manners and being unwilling to accept the help and advice Rutledge was giving them. These books always surprise me with how often suspects, or even just witnesses to a crime, will simply tell the police they choose not to talk to them and slam the door. Can you really do that?

Once again I enjoyed the atmosphere created for this story. This particular location has probably the most famous of all the chalk horses in England and I liked how it's history was woven into the thinking and actions of the characters. Rutledge and Hamish had a very good "conversation" regarding what had happened in France during the war with Rutledge asking Hamish exactly the same question I have often wanted answered. Always realizing, of course, that Hamish is a ghostly voice in Rutledge's mind, but in these stories he does become a bona fide character. I still have several of the stories to read and this 10th novel in the series is written in such a was as to be a completely stand alone novel. I am mightily enamored of the writing style and characters of these novels. I sincerely hope you will come away feeling the same.
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