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Legacy of the Dead    by Charles Todd order for
Legacy of the Dead
by Charles Todd
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2001 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Legacy of the Dead is the fourth book in the well-regarded series featuring Inspector Rutledge, certainly one of the most interesting sleuths on the current mystery scene. The series is set just after World War I in England. Rutledge has returned from the war badly shell-shocked and haunted by the ghost of Highlander Hamish MacLeod whom he was forced to have executed for cowardice on the French front.

The psychological connection between Rutledge and MacLeod is fascinating and one of the highlights of these books. As the series progresses the relationship evolves and becomes less stressful and more manageable for Rutledge. By the fourth book, although Rutledge is still plagued by Hamish's voice, he is able to use him as a sounding board for his thoughts on how to solve the crime. Their relationship might even be called a dysfunctional variation of that between Poirot and Colonel Hastings in the Agatha Christie mysteries.

The fourth Rutledge book is set in the Scottish borders area where Rutledge is summoned to investigate after the bones of an unidentified woman are found. Fiona MacDonald, a newcomer to the area with a small boy, is suspected of murdering the woman and taking the child (who turns out not to be her biological son). The mystery becomes even more interesting when Rutledge realizes that MacDonald is an important person from Hamish's past.

The plots in the Todd books can sometimes be a bit too complex and cumbersome. However, the interactions between Rutledge and MacLeod are intriguing, and the well-researched (both time period and locations) settings are excellent. They make the series very rewarding. Readers are advised to go through all the volumes in order, to appreciate the development of the Rutledge / Macbeth relationship.

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