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"She refuses to let herself' feel anything",
This review is from: The Red Door (Ian Rutledge Mysteries) (Hardcover)The setting is Hobson, Lancashire 1918 a young woman reads letters from her beloved, off fighting in the war. She tries to imagine his return, the cry of welcome and of love and hope, and show her gratitude for his safe return at last. Meanwhile, the focus shifts to the Teller family, the renowned missionary Walter Teller, and his brothers Peter and his wife Amy Edwin his wife Amy, sister Leticia and Walter's wife Jenny who reside at Witch Hazel Farm in Essex. It is here that Todd's complex plot is built upon the questionable motives of this well-to-do family and their efforts to cover up and affair of the past. Certainly Peter Teller has been having a hard time of late. With his damaged leg behind repair whose nightly whisky dulls the pain, the ache of torn muscle and smashed nerves. It is into this family that Inspector Ian Rutledge descends, the ghosts of the war still clear in his mind and the voices of Hamish MacLeod ever present at the back of his mind though the man himself lay dead in his French grave.
It has been a difficult long twelve months after Rutledge's return to Scotland Yard a year ago. Forced to investigate a case where individuals are attacked at knifepoint with Rutledge himself the recipient, something suddenly comes up. Walter Teller mysteriously goes missing in London. Seeking treatment at the Belvedere Clinic for some sort of nervous condition, a paralysis which had come as quickly as it suddenly disappeared had, in the middle of the afternoon dressed himself and walked out of the clinic on his own. Jenny and the rest of the family can shed little light on the disappearance - he had come to London to speak to his bankers while his son Harry is off the Harrow shortly. Rutledge's investigative skills are piqued, while Jenny and the family come to the clinic at once. Jenny is the one in distress, telling the Inspector her husband is a good man who takes his responsibilities seriously. Perhaps his brothers know something they haven't told the police.
Clearly it's as if Walter never existed then his clothing comes to light on the back of a costermonger near Covent Garden. Perhaps he had deliberately disappeared for whatever reason to deal with a completely different way of life. Edwin and Amy search for Walter themselves while the emotions of Jenny are raw, her tears not far below the surface Then there's a murder in Hobson, a woman called Florence Teller. There are no witnesses, no sign of robbery, no physical assault, nothing to go on but the woman's body found in the front passage of her house. The crime adds another complicated layer to this mystery as Rutledge is positive that Florence somehow related to the rest of the Teller family. Yet another murder and accusation of murder in the Teller family and Jenny's innocence sacrificed. The clues appear to lie with a dove gray parrot and the broken handle of a cane with blood on the knob, a missing box of letters, and a rose garden, a memorial to a wife's memory. The irrefutable facts are that Teller or someone had driven away around the same time Florence Teller was murdered. Perhaps Peter was a catalyst for her death.
A gorgeously imagined Edwardian mystery, the image of a lonely woman weeping over a lost love and reading hidden missives to her lover Peter Teller reverberates throughout. Is this a family connection that Edwin Teller might know, perhaps distant cousin, or an unrelated family of the same name. The echoes of the Great War reverberate throughout, wartime taking a terrible toll on those who remain teaching everyone that telegrams bring bad news, someone missing, A death. The end of hope. For Rutledge, the flashes of shells and the guns of France still pound in his head, the stones of the past anchored forever amid the torrent of his days, redirecting, obstructing. thwarting and frustrating him at every turn. It is the dark corners of London know how to keep secrets, but the real tragedy takes place in rural Lancashire as a woman is deserted, left waiting by her red door. Mike Leonard March 2010.