Synopses & Reviews
Charles Todd returns to the world of Scotland Yard's Inspector Ian Rutledge in a series that the New York Times Book Review
called "harrowing psychological drama" and the Washington Post Book World
hailed as "among the most intelligent and affecting being written these days." This time the embattled Inspector has met his match hunting a brutal killer across a frozen hell and the one witness who may have survived a crime of...
A Cold Treachery
"You'll hang for this see if you don't! That's my revenge! And you'll think about that when the rope goes around your neck and the black hood comes down..."
Called out by Scotland Yard into the teeth of a violent blizzard, Inspector Ian Rutledge finds himself confronted with one of the most savage murders he has ever encountered. Rutledge might have expected such unspeakable carnage on the World War I battlefields, where he'd lost much of his soul and his sanity but not in an otherwise peaceful farm kitchen in remote Urskdale.
Someone has murdered the Elcott family at their table without the least sign of struggle. Was the killer someone the young family knew and trusted? When the victims are tallied the local police are in for another shock: One of the Elcotts' children, a boy named Josh, is missing.
Now the Inspector must race to uncover a murderer and to save a child before he's silenced by the merciless elements or the even colder hands of a killer. Haunted and goaded by the soldier-ghost of his own tortured war past, Rutledge will discover the tragedy of war that splintered one marriage and pulled together another.
Love, jealousy, greed, revenge or was it some twisted combination of all of them? Any one could lead a man or woman to murder. What had the Elcotts done to ignite their killer's rage? With time running out, Rutledge knows all too well that such a cold-blooded murderer could be hiding somewhere in the blinding snow...preparing to strike again.
"Traditional mystery lovers who prefer their whodunits enriched with psychological insight will heartily embrace Todd's seventh Inspector Rutledge novel (after 2002's A Fearsome Doubt). Still haunted by the ghost of a corporal whose execution for insubordination he ordered during WWI, Rutledge fights a constant battle to hang on to his sanity by devoting himself to his detective work for Scotland Yard. This time, the brutal massacre of the Elcott family, including two adults and three children, takes him to the Lake District town of Urskdale. While the local authorities prefer to blame an outsider for the murders, the inspector quickly finds the hidden passions churning beneath the stolid surface of the small rustic town. Since one family member, a 10-year-old boy, wasn't found with his relatives' bloody corpses, Rutledge pursues clues suggesting that the missing lad may be either a potential future victim or the killer himself. Todd's ear for dialogue is superb, and he effortlessly conjures up the harsh life of a simple farm community through his vivid characters. As with its predecessors, this novel is imbued with tragic sadness, and Rutledge's struggle with his own demons serves as a moving counterpoint to the searing pain of other characters trapped by circumstances or emotions beyond their control. Perhaps this superb effort will bring Todd an audience to match the deserved critical acclaim he has received. Agent, Jane Chelius. (Jan. 25) FYI: Todd is the pseudonym of a mother-son writing team." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Todd fills the book with rich characterizations and great humanity....Todd surpasses just about anyone writing historical mysteries today....It's a fantastic achievement." Detroit Free Press
"Todd's gripping tale illustrates the devastating effects of extreme human emotions in a constricted environment. Urskdale and its inhabitants are clearly drawn. Indeed, the setting takes on an eerie life of its own. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"A slow beginning and melodramatic trappings put this a notch below Todd's most compelling work. Nonetheless, Rutledge and Hamish remain two of fiction's best antiwar spokesmen." Kirkus Reviews
December, 1919: Deep in England's frozen Lake District, constables discover a scene of unimaginable carnage: the bodies of five family members splayed across a bloodied cottage kitchen. Even as a search is mounted in the frigid, empty countryside for the youngest boy, apparently missing from the dreadful scene, a call goes out to Scotland Yard for immediate assistance, and Inspector Ian Rutledge is pulled from a court case and sent driving north through the night. But there is no sign of the missing boy or of any strangers who might have committed such a terrible crime. As Rutledge wends his way through a tangle of jealous relatives and family secrets, he will discover more reasons for murder than the people of this bleak hamlet are willing to reveal and somewhere amidst the peaks and valleys of this beautiful country lurks a murderer who considers so much spilt blood the least of his revenge.
About the Author
Charles Todd is the author of The Murder Stone, A Fearsome Doubt, Watchers of Time, Legacy of the Dead, A Test of Wills, Wings of Fire, and Search the Dark. He lives on the East Coast, where he is at work on the next novel in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series.