Sunday, February 25, 2018

Review: The Gate Keeper by Charles Todd

The Gate Keeper (Inspector Ian Rutledge, Book #20)
by Charles Todd
Release Date: February 6th 2018
2018 William Morrow
Kindle Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062678737
ASIN: B0713W4784
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Hours after his sister’s wedding, a restless Ian Rutledge drives aimlessly, haunted by the past, and narrowly misses a motorcar stopped in the middle of a desolate road. Standing beside the vehicle is a woman with blood on her hands and a dead man at her feet.

She swears she didn’t kill Stephen Wentworth. A stranger stepped out in front of their motorcar, and without warning, fired a single shot before vanishing into the night. But there is no trace of him. And the shaken woman insists it all happened so quickly, she never saw the man’s face.

Wentworth was well-liked, yet his bitter family paint a malevolent portrait, calling him a murderer. But who did Wentworth kill? Is his death retribution? Or has his companion lied? Wolf Pit, his village, has a notorious history: in Medieval times, the last wolf in England was killed there. When a second suspicious death occurs, the evidence suggests that a dangerous predator is on the loose, and that death is closer than Rutledge knows.

My Thoughts
The Gate Keeper is the 20th entry in the Ian Rutledge series, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, although I may be a bit biased as I really like this series, and its inspector and have been reading these books since the debut was published.  The mother-son writing duo certainly know how to keep one's interest despite the longevity of the series; and for those of us who are invested in these characters, I really like how they have developed over the series as well.

I have truly enjoyed watching Rutledge's journey throughout the years as he battles with shell shock and the horror of the Battle of the Somme.  What I really like is how the horror is not glossed over and rears itself over and over again throughout the series, showing the reality of what things were like for the brave men who fought in that war.  The glimpses of the aftermath and people trying to get their lives back together is rather remarkable and I can't but feel empathy for these people and what they have suffered.  To learn more about Rutledge and how he gets through his day despite the ever-present guilt is something I adore; he's definitely not without flaws, being a loner and sometimes working again the wishes of Scotland Yard, but it is his daily routine that I find interesting and how the author helps him transition to another, and then another, day.  He embodies exactly what I think a Scotland Yard Inspector is all about during this time period, and I love that. 

I do have to mention that I took an immediate dislike to Stephen Wentworth's mother. There was nothing truly to like about this woman and I really hoped to see something happen to her. You could look at her situation as someone who probably needed a psychologist/psychiatrist to help her deal with her obvious dislike of Stephen as that behaviour was not normal.  For those reasons, I couldn't come up with a shred of compassion for her, not one bit.  I don't usually react so strongly to a character, and even tend to like difficult characters, but this was definitely not one those times.  Kudos to the authors for exploring that little bit of motherhood, though. I'm sure it was difficult to write.

I really enjoyed the mystery in this one as I had a hard time figuring out who was exactly guilty and those are the mysteries I like.  Having those subtle red herrings thrown at you is quite complicated to do, and I have to admire the authors for being able to do that, especially after so many books when you get to know the writing.   Even if the plot was a bit slow, that didn't really bother me as I know after reading so many of their works, how explosive the endings can be, so I was really patient and paid attention to the clues that were given through interviews. And I love the descriptions of tea time and sweets that were included, so much a part of this book.  And the writing: the authors have an amazing ability to convey a lot through dialogue, rather than just through description, so you have to pay attention to every little detail.  

The Gate Keeper is one of those murder mysteries in which I felt a lot of sadness as the victims seemed to be genuinely nice people who didn't deserve the fate they were dealt.  I haven't always felt sympathetic so it was a nice surprise.   The mystery was a bit slow, but not boring, and the red herrings were quite interesting as I had a hard time figuring out exactly what might have happened. The writing was excellent and there was some good investigative work that I really liked. And while I absolutely recommend this book to others, and it could be read on its own, perhaps starting at the beginning would give readers an insight into Hamish and Rutledge and their relationship with which the authors assume you are already familiar.