A Pale Horse

Written by Charles Todd
Review by Ellen Keith


Tenth in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, A Pale Horse finds Rutledge searching for a missing man in Berkshire, in whom the War Office takes a great interest. What does this man have to do with a body found in Yorkshire’s Fountain Abbey, wrapped in a cloak and wearing a gas mask? Rutledge makes connections that his superiors would rather he didn’t make. Investigating in the small community, his questions raise suspicions and he is met with hostility (a usual occurrence in a Rutledge investigation).

With each book in the series, Todd (a mother-son writing team) deepens the reader’s understanding of Rutledge, who was shell-shocked in World War I, and as a result hears the voice of Hamish, a Scottish soldier whose execution for desertion he ordered, in his head. In this outing, Rutledge’s relationship with his sister Frances is given more play, a comfort to a man who otherwise cannot confide his secrets to others. The mystery reaches back into one of the worst inventions to come from the war, and its devastation extends to the present, affecting more than just those who fought. Todd’s books are always sober affairs but nothing less than absorbing.