A Fatal Lie by Charles Todd

A Fatal Lie (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #23)Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge #23
Publication Date: 2/16/21
Number of Pages: 352

Mother and son writing team, Charles Todd, beautifully portrays the damage – seen and unseen – suffered by those in WWI. Ian Rutledge’s damage is the unseen kind and he suffers from and deals with the aftermath hour-by-hour. His construct for dealing with the horror is named Hamish and he resides in Rutledge’s head. No, Rutledge doesn’t belong in an asylum, but he definitely suffers from what we would call PTSD in today’s world – and he has a severe case of it. I admire the way the authors show the vulnerable side of Rutledge as well as the skilled investigator side. I’d really like to think Rutledge is getting better and relying on Hamish less and less.

Rutledge’s boss at Scotland Yard doesn’t like him, so, once again he is being punished. He’s been working behind a desk for what seems like forever when his boss sends him off on a case in the Llangollen Valley in northern Wales. The body of a man has been found in the River Dee – no identification and a badly damaged face. Was the man pushed from the aqueduct or did he fall? If he fell, why wouldn’t he have some identification on him?

Nobody in the small village admits to having seen a stranger and they are sure the victim isn’t a local. Who is he? How did he come to be in the small village of Cwmafon? The only clue to the man’s identity is the tailor’s label in his shirt. If Rutledge can just trace that, maybe he’ll be able to find the victim’s name – and talk to his family.

Rutledge is one of the most tenacious, dedicated investigators you’ll ever meet. He never stops until all of the threads are pulled and the total mystery is solved, and this one is definitely convoluted. Before we are done, we’re looking for a missing toddler and we have multiple bodies on our hands. Everyone seems to have secrets and they only tell half-truths or totally mislead. As Rutledge learns more and more, he has to backtrack and go back to the beginning more than once. Time is of the essence for finding the toddler and for discovering the murderer before there are more bodies.

The more Rutledge learns the more he comes to like the victim and the more concerned he becomes for the missing toddler. He speeds over the narrow, curvy, mountainous roads of Wales and England looking for clues. He’s had little sleep and no rest. He’s been attacked, mislead, lied to, and mistrusted. Yet, he is determined to find what has happened to all of the victims.

You should know that it is neither light nor humorous – but it is an excellent read. I love Rutledge and how human he is. I would love to see a bit more light come into his life. Maybe we’ll see that in some of the future books.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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