Thursday, February 2, 2012

THE CONFESSION by Charles Todd

It’s always an all-night read when one of my favorite characters returns in a new adventure, and that was the case with The Confession, the 14th in the estimable Ian Rutledge series penned by Charles Todd, an unflagging mother/son team who entertain not only with this series but also with another featuring army nurse Bess Crawford.

    With the Rutledge series readers enjoy two affecting characters as the detective is accompanied by the ghostly voice of his friend, Hamish Macleod, who died in the war.  Rutledge needs all the help he can get in this complex, ultimately rewarding thriller.

    It’s not often that a man walks into Scotland Yard to confess to a five year old murder in order to clear his conscience.  He gives his name as Wyatt Russell and says he is dying of cancer, which seems believable for he is “a walking skeleton, pale except for his dark hair and his pain-ridden dark eyes.”  The man he killed was a cousin, Justin Fowler, but Russell offers no explanation for the murder.

    Setting out to investigate the story on his own Rutledge drives to the man’s home located by a small village, Furnham, in the Essex marshes.  His arrival is greeted with hostility by villagers who do not want him there.  That is puzzle enough but a short while later when Russell’s body washes up from the Thames with a bullet in the back of his head Rutledge realizes there is more to the man’s story than he had imagined. 

    More questions than answers are the result of his probing when Rutledge discovers that the dead man was not who he claimed to be.  The only clue is a gold locket carrying a picture of Cynthia Farraday that the man wore around his neck.  In order to solve the case Rutledge must return to Furnham where he meets the enigmatic Miss Farraday and faces villagers who would not hesitate to kill him to  protect a long held secret.

    Always a likable hero, readers will find themselves pulling for Rutledge who appears more tortured than ever by his war experiences.  The Confession is one more suspenseful tale from the Todds plus as always filled with surprising twists and turns.

    Highly recommended.

    - Gail Cooke

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