Feature Article

The History of Inspector Ian Rutledge by Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the author of nine Ian Rutledge mysteries—A False Mirror, A Long Shadow, A Cold Treachery, A Fearsome Doubt, Watchers of Time, Legacy of the Dead, Search the Dark, Wings of Fire, and A Test of Wills—and one stand-alone novel, The Murder Stone. This mother-and-son writing team lives in Delaware and North Carolina, respectively.




A Complete Timeline of Major Events Leading up to A False Mirror

June 1919 A Test of Wills (Re-issued by Harper mass market—on-sale 12/26/06)
Ian Rutledge, returned home from the trenches of the Great War, loses his fiancée Jean after long months in hospital with what is now called PTSD, and faces a bleak future. Fighting back from the edge of madness, he returns to his career at Scotland Yard. But Chief Superintendent Bowles is determined to break him. And so Rutledge finds himself in Warwickshire where the only witness to the murder of Colonel Harris is a drunken ex-soldier suffering from shell shock Rutledge is fighting his own battles with the voice of Corporal Hamish MacLeod in his head, survivor's guilt after the bloody 1916 Battle of the Somme. The question is, will he win this test of wills with Hamish—or is the shell shocked man a mirror of what he'll become if he fails to keep his madness at bay?

July 1919 Wings of Fire
Rutledge is sent to Cornwall because the Home Office wants to be reassured that Nicholas Cheney wasn't murdered. But Nicholas committed suicide with his half-sister Olivia. And she's written a body of war poetry under the name of O.A. Manning. Rutledge, who had used her poetry in the trenches to keep his mind functioning, is shocked to discover she never saw France—and may well be a cold-blooded killer. And yet even dead, she makes a lasting impression that he can't shake.

August 1919 Search the Dark
An out of work ex-soldier, sitting on a train in a Dorset station suddenly sees his dead wife and two small children standing on the platform. He fights to get off the train and soon thereafter, the woman is found murdered and the children are missing. Rutledge is sent to coordinate a search, and finds himself attracted to Aurore, a French war bride who will lie to protect her husband and may have killed because she was jealous of the murder victim's place in her husband's life.

September 1919 Legacy of the Dead
Just as Rutledge thinks he's coming to terms—of a sort—with the voice that haunts him, he's sent to northern England to find the missing daughter of a woman who once slept with a King. Little does he know that his search will take him to Scotland, and to the woman Hamish would have married, if he'd lived. But Fiona is certain to hang for murdering a mother to steal her child, and she doesn't know that Rutledge killed Hamish on the battlefield when she turns to him for help. He couldn't save Hamish—but Rutledge is honor bound to protect Fiona and the small child named for him.

October 1919 Watchers of Time
Still recovering from the nearly fatal wound he received in Scotland, Rutledge is sent to East Anglia to discover who murdered a priest, and what his death had to do with a dying man who knew secrets about the family that owns the village. But there's more to the murder than hearing a death-bed confession. And the key might well be a young woman as haunted as Rutledge is, because she survived the Titanic's sinking and carries her own guilt for failure.

November 1919 A Fearsome Doubt
A case from 1912 comes back to haunt Rutledge. Did he send an innocent man to the gallows? Meanwhile, he's trying to discover who has poisoned three ex-soldiers, all of them amputees in a small village in Kent. Mercy killings—or murder? And he sees a face across the Guy Fawkes' Day bonfire that is a terrifying reminder of what happened to him at the end of the war . . . something he is ashamed of, even though he can't remember why. What happened in the missing six months of his life?

December 1919 A Cold Treachery
Rutledge is already in the north and the closest man to Westmorland, where at the height of a blizzard, there has been a cold blooded killing of an entire family, save one child, who is missing in the snow. But as the facts unfold, it's possible that the boy killed his own family. And where is he? Dead in the snow, or hiding? And there are secrets in this isolated village of Urskdale that can lead to more killings.

January 1920 A Long Shadow (On-sale from Harper mass market—12/26/06)
A party that begins innocently enough ends with Rutledge finding machine gun casings engraved with death's heads—a warning. But he's sent to Northamptonshire to discover why someone shot Constable Ward with an arrow in what the locals call a haunted wood. He discovers there are other deaths unaccounted for, and there's also a woman who knows too much about Rutledge for his own comfort. Then whoever has been stalking him comes north after him, and Rutledge knows if he doesn't find the man, he'll die. Hamish, pushing him hard, is all too aware that Rutledge's death will mean his own . . .

February 1920 A False Mirror (On-sale from William Morrow—1/9/07)
A man is nearly beaten to death, his wife is taken hostage by his supposed assailant, and Rutledge is sent posthaste to Hampton Regis to find out who wanted Matthew Hamilton dead. But the man who may be guilty is someone Rutledge knew in the war, a reminder that some were lucky enough to be saved, while Hamish was left to die. But this is a story of love gone wrong, and the next two deaths reek of madness. Are they? Or were the women mistaken for the intended victim?



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