A False Mirror

Written by Charles Todd
Review by Ellen Keith

Ninth in Todd’s series featuring Inspector Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard inspector and shell-shocked veteran of the Great War, this outing finds Rutledge in Hampton Regis, summoned by a fellow veteran who is under suspicion for savagely beating the husband of his former love. Mallory, the suspect, is not a friend, though, earning Rutledge’s scorn for having used family ties to get mustered out of the war.

Rutledge’s cases are usually in country settings where he is alone, without the backing of Scotland Yard, and viewed with suspicion by the locals. But, he is never really alone, having the voice of Hamish, a Scottish soldier whose execution for desertion he had ordered, in his head. Rutledge has resigned himself to hearing Hamish for the rest of his life and fans of the series see Hamish as an integral part however much Rutledge may wish otherwise.

I was utterly engrossed in this mystery right up until the end, where the revelation of the murderer (there are two murders in addition to the beating) felt rushed and unconvincing. Still, the strengths of the series are in full view: tormented but sympathetic characters, a perfectly rendered illustration of a community, and more discoveries about Rutledge himself.