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A Pale Horse: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery    by Charles Todd Amazon.com order for
Pale Horse
by Charles Todd
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

My day has been made. I just finished A Pale Horse by my favorite author, Charles Todd. I type that name with reverence. I gain much more from this wonderful series than simply a very good read. I gain insight into the experiences of my father who was in the trenches during World War I. Charles Todd has brought me closer to a man I never really knew, but respect and love now more than ever. I'm sorry I can't tell him that.

Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is sent to the ruins of an ancient abbey where the body of a man has been found wearing a long black cape and with a respirator (gas mask) covering his face. Murder? Probably. If so, who did it? And who is the victim? Another tough question. Suspects abound in this countryside and Rutledge is thwarted by the reluctance of the inhabitants of the small village (where the man is presumed to have lived) to talk to him. Each of the residents of the nine small cottages has his or her own demons and doesn't want them exposed.

Ian Rutledge has his own demons one of them the voice in the back of his head of the Scotsman Rutledge was forced to execute on the battlefield. The meticulous research that has produced this series allows the reader to feel the emotions the returning soldiers feel and with which they grapple. These books should be required reading for every head of state so they can realize the heavy burden wars put upon the men and women who fight them - and on those who welcome them home. The scars that cannot be seen are the debilitating ones that prevent warriors from discarding memories of terrifying scenes they are forced to witness, so that they can rejoin those they left behind. A veil is drawn over their psyches that cannot be easily penetrated.

The mother and son writing team known as Charles Todd have produced what the Washington Post Book World calls 'one of the best historical series being written today.' Kirkus writes 'Another penetrating, emotionally lacerating antiwar fable from a master of the form.' With riveting characters and a plot line that keeps one reading far into the night, A Pale Horse is a chilling tale of war and its aftermath.

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