Sunday, July 2, 2017

SEARCH THE DARK by Charles Todd

Shell shock and war wounds permeate Charles Todd’s Search the Dark.

Someone murders a woman previously seen waiting for a train in the village of Singleton Magna in Dorset. 

Superintendent Bowles sends Scotland Yard’s Inspector Ian Rutledge to investigate.

Bowles hates Rutledge and is jealous of Rutledge. After Rutledge came out of an asylum following his war-related mental breakdown, Bowles sends him on useless, already solved cases. He wants Rutledge to fail. If Bowles could, he would destroy Rutledge.

The murder seems open and shut. The woman’s mentally disturbed husband saw his wife and their children from the train window, went to find them, and probably killed them. 

But his wife and their children are already dead. They died in the bombing of London. If the accused committed the murder, he did so out of his own war-caused insanity. 

Now the authorities are searching for the missing children.

Rutledge finds a small town immersed in the pain of the war. Even Simon, the “lord of the manor,” can hardly function. People expected him to use his war experiences to vault himself into politics. Now he is setting up an esoteric museum and, along with his French wife, becoming a recluse.

At one point, someone tells Rutledge, “I don’t suppose [Simon’s] father expected the war to last, and I don’t suppose Simon did either. Well, none of us did! Quick in and quick out was the idea. Only it wasn’t that way, and in the end, those of us who survived knew what kind of men we were. Some of us even learned to live with it, however little we liked what we saw. But Simon, told all his life that he was Jesus Christ, son of God, fell far below his own estimation and never recovered.”

Searchers find another woman dead. Rutledge is convinced the accused man did not commit either murder. That man is so disabled by his own war experiences he can barely talk or move.

Another outcast tells Rutledge--“You are so very sensitive to what people are thinking. It is a gift. And a curse. To be able to put yourself in the minds of others. Is that how you come to find your murderers?”

So Rutledge has to search the dark, other people’s and his own. He has to live with Hamish, the voice in his head who reminds him of his most terrible moment in the war.

Particular individuals often survive wars because of blind chance.

So far, the Ian Rutledge books are about the aftermath of World War I, about Ian Rutledge and others trying to survive.


Rick Robinson said...

I've bought but not yet read the very first book in this series, but I'm more compelled, now that I've read this review, to read it.

Joe Barone said...

Rick, I enjoy this series. I hope you do too.