Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd

Hunting Shadows (Inspector Ian Rutledge #16)
by Charles Todd
Release Date: January 21st, 2014
2014 William Morrow
Softcover Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-223718-7
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5

A society wedding at Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire becomes a crime scene when a man is murdered. After another body is found, the baffled local constabulary turns to Scotland Yard. Though the second crime had a witness, her description of the killer is so strange its unbelievable.

Despite his experience, Inspector Ian Rutledge has few answers of his own. The victims are so different that there is no rhyme or reason to their deaths. Nothing logically seems to connect them—except the killer. As the investigation widens, a clear suspect emerges. But for Rutledge, the facts still don’t add up, leaving him to question his own judgment.

My Thoughts
Hunting Shadows is the sixteenth book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, and while not my favourite book thus far, I still enjoyed it considerably.  Personally, I thought the investigation was interesting, but I thought the personal connection and the character development, something that is usually so strong in these novels, was a bit lacking in this one.

I am a huge fan of anything to do with World Wars I and II and one of the thing that attracts me to this series, as well as his Bess Crawford series, is the emotional and physical tolls the Great War has had on the people involved.  Inspector Rutledge himself is dealing with PTSD, although shell shock is what they would have called during this time period, a psychological ailment doctors really didn't know how to treat or even diagnose for that matter.  In this case, Rutledge is haunted by a close friend under his command he had to execute during the war for insubordination, and is constantly worried that others will hear him speak to this 'ghost' or hear him cry out during his sleep.  It is extremely important that his superiors at Scotland Yard never discover his secret so he carries this extra stress on his shoulders at all times.  I have read all of these books with interest to see how the author will deal with Rutledge and his ailment and have rooted for the inspector all of these years, hoping his friends and his job will help keep him rooted and not go for the outcome that is alluded to so often.  

The plot plays a much bigger role in this book than character development and I was slightly disappointed in this as I always felt the interactions with old and new characters was such a strength in this series.  That's not to say that the dialogue and the interactions were sub-par, not by any means, it's just that I felt the characters didn't really develop in any way in this one.  I wasn't extremely disappointed by this, but I was hoping that some threads from previous novels would be picked up and continued and they weren't.  However, the atmosphere of the time period is evident in every paragraph and every line, and you really get a sense of what people thought and felt during these years after the war.  I find it quite fascinating and give a lot of credit to the author for being able to bring out those subtle nuances in his work.  I thought it quite interesting to read about what the people thought of snipers during the war as well, even did some personal research on the subject, and was a bit surprised to learn how unkindly they were looked upon. I am thinking the 'gentleman's code of honour' which still existed in WWI probably played a huge role in that thinking, and being a sniper would not have been gentlemanly. Most of my knowledge about snipers comes from WWII and the thinking was very different during that war - interesting stuff. 

Hunting Shadows is another interesting chapter in the life of Inspector Rutledge.  His investigation took him into yet another part of England, an area that seems to be more isolated as it tends to be drenched in fog and water seems to play a huge role in the lives of the inhabitants.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the area and the people, but thought the plot overshadowed the character development in this one.  I am definitely looking forward to the next book, A Fine Summer's Day, when it is released next year.