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by Charles Todd
Harper Mystery, December 2006
368 pages
ISBN: 0060786728

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I became a fan of Inspector Ian Rutledge upon reading the first book in the series, A TEST OF WILLS, in which we're introduced to this World War I veteran who has returned to his position with Scotland Yard as a police inspector, suffering from shell shock and carrying horrific memories from the war back with him. With A LONG SHADOW, the series' eighth installment, Charles Todd continues to present the exciting, richly-drawn suspense to which Rutledge's followers have grown accustomed.

On New Year's Eve 1919, Rutledge finds a brass cartridge casing, similar to countless others he'd seen on the battlefield during the war, on the steps of his friend's house after a dinner party. Soon there are more casings, purposely placed where he is sure to discover them, and Rutledge, already teetering on the edge of sanity, begins to wonder whether he's already lost his footing.

Mercifully, a case takes him away from London to a small Northamptonshire village, where a local constable has been shot with a bow and arrow in an allegedly spirit-infested wood. The townsfolk are reluctant to talk, and Rutledge finds himself embroiled in the mysterious disappearance of a young girl three years earlier. While he digs for answers, he hopes to keep his own ghosts at bay.

But his stalker has followed him, and now he must somehow keep his balance long enough to discover who is tracking him and why.

Fans of this series are familiar with Hamish, the brooding young Scotsman whom Rutledge sent to his death in the war and whose spirit stays with Rutledge wherever he goes. But even Hamish, who knows Rutledge better than anyone, is puzzled by the Inspector's stalker, as well as the two mysterious cases he's trying to solve in this silent, unfriendly village. Rutledge is battling against the time that is threatening to run out for the injured constable, and as he gets closer to the answers he's looking for, those who would prefer their secrets be kept buried continue to throw obstacles in his path.

A LONG SHADOW is a seamless, substantive tale of secrets and lies, of hidden truths and heartaches. Charles Todd has once again delivered an eloquent story of suspense with a fluid style and absorbing prose on a foundation of setting so luxurious and characters so vivid I find it hard not to get lost in Rutledge's post-war world.

There is a palpable emotional depth to this book that adds a more personal element to Rutledge's character and makes him all the more realistic. The man has flaws, no doubt, but it is those flaws that render him so captivating a protagonist, and Todd continues to surround our hero with characters who bring out the best of Rutledge's traits whether strength or weakness and demonstrate his unfailing ability to be both human and hero.

Reviewed by J. B. Thompson, May 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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