"HUNTING SHADOWS: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery," by Charles Todd, William Morrow, $25.99, 330 pages (f)
"Hunting Shadows" starts out like an episode from a crime drama.
The mystery opens in the killer's shoes: He meets the soon-to-be victim unexpectedly at a friend's funeral, he plans to end that man's life, and then he cunningly and efficiently follows through. Without having to endure opening credits (it's a book after all), the next chapter moves right on to the hero, Ian Rutledge, a highly decorated Scotland Yard inspector in 1920s England, who travels to Ely from London to begin the investigation.
But before Rutledge can even get started, the sniper from the opening pages strikes again, and Rutledge must travel between neighboring towns, trying to piece together how these two seemingly unrelated murders are linked. With the link, Rutledge believes, will come the identity of the killer.
The killer remains elusive, however, and Rutledge soon finds his experiences in the war becoming more and more critical to understanding the goings-on in rural England.
The mother-son writing duo of Caroline and Charles Todd, publishing under the pen name "Charles Todd," have done it again with "Hunting Shadows," the 16th novel in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series that was released Jan. 21. The series has gathered accolades and garnered national attention and will no doubt continue to do so with this newest installment.
For Inspector Rutledge fans, this mystery will be sure to please. It has all the ingredients of a familiar Charles Todd mystery: complex characters and associations, the intrigue of a killer on the loose, a high-stakes murder investigation and a protagonist inspector who continues undaunted down new avenues after every wrong turn.
For those new to the series, it might move a little slowly. It opens like a crime show drama, but it quickly starts to feel like it's moving in excruciatingly slow motion, with no camera cues or cinematographic clues as to who the killer might be. Rather than a whodunnit, it reads more like a howdunnit and a whydunnit, a "How did he get away with it?" and a "Why did he do it?"
Though it may not pull in the fans yearning for John McClane action sequences on every page, "Hunting Shadows" details a complex investigation in a historically accurate way and caters to readers who want to get lost in a mystery or, perhaps, to get lost "Hunting Shadows."
This novel contains mild language and some depictions of violence.