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The Red Door: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery    by Charles Todd order for
Red Door
by Charles Todd
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Just in the nick of time as I was slipping into withdrawal, The Red Door (by the mother and son writing team of Charles Todd) arrived at my house and I was able to forestall plummeting into a sad existence without my favorite reading material. I must say at the outset of this review, I am not disappointed. The Red Door is another superb story.

It is June, 1920, in Lancashire, England. In anticipation of her husband's returning home from France after the end of World War I, a woman painted her front door red. The paint is now faded, though she had still waited. Inspector Ian Rutledge is sent by Scotland Yard to investigate her murder. Who is this woman? And why is she dead?

Prior to this death, a man disappears from a clinic in London after suffering sudden paralysis. Where has he gone? And why? His whole family sets about to find the man - each with their own agenda. Their reasons for finding him are varied and complicate his disappearance. Rutledge is also in charge of the search.

The two cases intermingle with disheartening consequences. The plot of The Red Door is intricate and must be followed carefully. It's worth the effort. Believe me, the engrossing story behind the red door pushes the reader to consume just one more page before attending to something else more pressing. Okay, maybe two - or three - more ...

I am intrigued as much by the characters as the plot. A family of three brothers and one sister manage to have as many foibles as the rest of us. But I find theirs more interesting. London doesn't play much part in this novel, but the village of Hobson comes alive on the pages as though it truly exists - down to the sound of the rain on a windowpane and the shadows that play on the trees and cause them to turn color. The concern of the villagers for one another leaks onto the pages as do the jealousies and gossiping that are, unfortunately, a normal part of life.

Charles Todd depicts the few times the effects of war erupt as though the authors themselves had been there and borne the ravages of the War to End All Wars (which unfortunately wasn't).

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