Mike's Reviews > Search the Dark

Search the Dark by Charles Todd
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In the third Inspector Ian Rutledge novel the author(s)--a mother and son team writing under the name Charles Todd--continue to examine the effects of World War I on British society. A grief stricken veteran named Mowbray is arrested for the murder of a woman whom he believes is his wife who deserted him while he was away at war. The evidence seems incontrovertible that Mowbray is guilty until it appears the victim wasn't his wife at all. Did Mowbray kill another woman, a victim of mis-identification? Or is he innocent of any crime at all?

Rutledge is sent to put the case to rest. However, what appears to be a simple case is not. As the identity of the victim points to another perpetrator, Rutledge begins to uncover facts that broadens the list of suspects all the way to the highest political circles in London.

Particularly fascinating is the manner in which the effects of the war on women who waited for their men to return from the trenches is explored. The men who returned from the war, who were able to survive, are not the same personalities their wives and lovers knew before they went to the war to end all wars. Here are women who shrink in terror from the gentle men whom they once loved. Here are the mothers unable to accept that their sons will never take their place in society, able to lead the life any mother hopes for a child. And here are the women who have lost their betroth-eds to the women of France, young women who are unable to find any suitable relationship because an almost complete generation of young men will never return home.

Todd continues to write a series of novels that amount to much more than the typical English country mystery. Here you will find adroit handling of lives shattered by shell shock and survivor guilt and an entire society recovering from the incomprehensible grief endured by multiple generations. You will find few individuals untouched by "the great war."

Rutledge continues to observe his duty to be a voice for the victim, a speaker for the dead. In carrying out his duty Rutledge pursues the truth no matter the direction in which it points. That is just one more reason to delve into the writing of this engaging writing partnership of mother and son. From the mud of the trenches in France to the highest levels of British society, these authors know their history, on both a military and cultural level with a grasp of what we know today as the effects of post traumatic stress syndrome.
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