The Red Door
Morrow, Dec 29 2009, $24.99
In 1920, WWI veteran, Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge still struggles with his military time though he successfully is able to investigate crimes (see A Matter of Justice) and conceal his mental issue Hamish even from his astute visiting godfather. Rutledge is assigned the case of the disappearance of missionary Walter Teller, who mentally broke down in London and was taken to a nearby clinic where he apparently left. The inspector questions Walter’s family especially focusing on his two brothers, Peter and Edwin.
Rutledge is next assigned to look into the Lancashire stabbing murder of Florence Teller, wife of an apparent different Peter Teller than Walter’s brother; a Peter who failed to return from the Great War. Still he finds the surnames too coincidental to ignore though he cannot fathom the otherwise link beyond The Red Door that Florence painted for her husband who never came home.
Extremely complicated, the latest Inspector Rutledge historical police procedural is a timely thriller on two fronts. First the hero and Walter suffer from post traumatic stress disorder as do many of our soldiers today; second the Spanish Flu of 1918 still leaves fear in many people as does Swine Flu today. The whodunit is super (though Hamish’s voice feels somewhat irritating) and the depth of the era is as always insightful without superseding the mystery as team Todd provides another strong Inspector Rutledge tale.