Inspector Ian Rutledge, veteran of the Great War and Scotland Yard inspector, returns in his 13th outing, faced with an intriguing confession of murder. In the summer of 1920, a man walks into his office and confesses to a murder committed in 1915. He is dying and anxious to relieve his conscience before the end. Rutledge soon has two murders to investigate: the murder the man has confessed to and the man’s own murder. His investigation takes him to the isolated town of Furnham in Essex, where the locals close ranks against him and his questions.
Rutledge faces both personal and professional challenges. The voice of Hamish, a Scottish soldier he had to execute in the war, is ever-present. Rutledge is also despised by his superior, who keeps him away from high-profile cases. A hallmark of the series is that his investigations always take him to remote towns where he gets the same kind of welcome he gets in Furnham.
A huge fan of this series, I found the mystery in this installment to be convoluted, based in multiple misunderstandings. If any one of them had been cleared up, there would be no mystery. Still, Todd (a mother-son team) continues to reinforce the theme of the series that incidents in the past will continue to haunt the future unless exposed. The mystery aside, however, characters remain sharply drawn, and Rutledge, with his inexorable hunt for the truth, is as compelling as ever.