28 May 2009

Review, SEARCH THE DARK, Charles Todd

Audio book, 11 hour 45 min, narrated by Samuel Gillies.
The book was published in 1999, this version audible.com in 2000.

This is the third in the Ian Rutledge series, and the second I have listened to. It is a "village mystery", with quite a confined setting. A returned soldier travelling south by train to find work looks out of the window as the train passes through a small village and sees a woman and two children on the platform with a man. The soldier, Mowbray, believes his wife and children were killed in the bombing of London in 1915, and yet there they are on the platform.

He frantically tries to get off the train, but is not put off until the next stop. By the time he gets back to the station, the woman and children have gone. Distraught he searches the town, threatening his wife harm when he finds her. The next day a woman's body is found, face battered, some miles away in the countryside and the local police inspector assumes it is Mowbray's wife. But there is no sign of the children.

Ian Rutledge from Scotland Yard is brought in to find the children, but there are too many things that don't add up, and he is not convinced it is Mrs Mowbray. When another young woman is discovered to be missing, it seems Rutledge may be right. However the local policeman is not so easily convinced.

What I found as I listened is that I really cared about what happened to these characters. Rutledge is a bit pedantic about getting things right, and more than once I found myself saying " get on with it man!" but then I find he has thought of something that didn't even cross my horizon. And just when you think you've got it all worked out, the plot takes another turn, another body is found, or whatever, and off we go again.

The war is a recent memory and Rutledge is not the only one damaged by it. Several of the characters in the book, including the unfortunate Mowbray, have been deeply affected by the war. Rutledge himself is constantly reminded of the war by the ever present voice of Hamish MacLeod.

For me this time, the voice of "Hamish in his head" is much stronger in this early novel, the conversations Rutledge has with Hamish are more like dialogue between the detective and his offsider. I commented on this in my Sleuths and Foils post. By A PALE HORSE, which is #10 in the series, and set a year or two later than SEARCH THE DARK, Rutledge is learning how to control Hamish to an extent, and to respond less automatically to his voice.

I am "hooked" on these stories, but next time I really must read a book, not listen to one.

My rating: 4.9

From Fantastic Fiction:

Charles Todd is a pen name used by the American authors Caroline and Charles Todd. This mother-and-son writing team lives in the eastern United States, in North Carolina and Delaware, respectively. The pseudonymous mystery authors are best known for a series of novels, set in post World War I England. These intelligent and literate books deal with the cases of Inspector Ian Rutledge, a veteran of the European campaigns who is attempting to pick up the pieces of his Scotland Yard career. However, he must keep his greatest burden a secret. Suffering from shell shock, he lives with the constant cynical, taunting voice of Hamish MacLeod....

The series:
1. A Test of Wills (1996)
2. Wings of Fire (1998)
3. Search the Dark (1999)
4. Legacy of the Dead (2000)
5. Watchers of Time (2001)
6. A Fearsome Doubt (2002)
7. A Cold Treachery (2005)
8. A Long Shadow (2006)
9. A False Mirror (2007)
10. A Pale Horse (2008)
11. A Matter of Justice (2009)

5 comments:

Kathy said...

This is a great series. They are so well-written with dynamic and believable characters

I've only read them so, I'd be interested to listen to them. good book with the right narrator becomes a great book, in my opinion.

Kerrie said...

I fully agree Kathy. I find it hard to believe the authors are not British too

Bernadette in Australia said...

It's nearly time for my next audible download so I'm putting this series on my wishlist. Thanks Kerrie.

Kerrie said...

And thank you Bernadette for pointing me to Audible. I'm enjoying them

Belle said...

I have yet to read this series - I had one of the books recently from the library but had to return it unread because I just had too many books to get to it. I think I might try it out in audio.

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