Thursday, February 3, 2011

A LONELY DEATH by Charles Todd

Charles Todd's A Lonely Death is another one of those stories I would cut by at least one-third.  But it has one thing I found unusual.

Inspector Ian Rutledge's "sidekick" was the voice of a ghost in his head.  The ghost, Corporal Hamish MacLeod, is a part of Rutledge's PTSD.

In fact, the story deals with PTSD on several levels, not just PTSD as a result of the horrors of WWI. 

Consorting with, not so much a figment of your imagination, but more someone who exists in a living way, though he is now dead and lives only as a voice in your head, was a fascinating idea.  As a person who grew up on the grounds of a state mental hospital, I can believe that some people do such things.  I probably knew a few of them.

Let me make myself clear.  This is the first Inspector Rutledge book I've read.  I borrowed the electronic reader version from the local library.  It seemed interesting and was one of the few electronic books available without waiting.

Maybe the relationship between Rutledge and MacLeod is a long-term one that regular Charles Todd readers have known and lived with for some time. Maybe it is nothing new to you.  But it was to me.

In any case, Rutledge, Hamish and some ambitious local and Scotland Yard cops, work together (and against one another) to try to solve an ongoing series of murders.  People are being garroted in a village in Sussex, England.  At first, the murders seem somehow related to the war.  Then it becomes clear that there could be several other explanations.

And at the same time Rutledge helps a now-retired friend try to solve (or at least understand) the one cold case which still haunts his friend.

In other words, there's a lot happening in this book.  Too much for me.  And what goes around doesn't necessarily come around, at least to my satisfaction.

So I see this as a book (or a series) with a brilliant insight--MacLeod, his history and the way he continues to live with the inspector.  But I got flooded with the details of too many different crimes and too many different people along the way.

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