“If anyone can turn a simple village mystery into a brooding Greek tragedy, it’s Charles Todd. . . . Todd handles grave issues with great compassion”—The New York Times Book Review
In a marshy Norfolk backwater, a priest is brutally murdered after giving a dying man last rites. For Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge, an ex-officer still recovering from the trauma of war, it looks to be a simple case. Yet the Inspector finds himself uncovering secrets that the local authorities would prefer not to see explored. Rutledge pares away layers of deception to piece together a chain of events that stretches from the brooding marshes to one of the greatest sea disasters in history—the sinking of the Titanic. Who is the mysterious woman who may have boarded that ship—and who is the secretive woman who survived it? Only Rutledge can answer those questions . . . and prevent a killer who’ll stop at nothing from striking again.
Praise for Watchers of Time
“One of the best historical series being written today . . . In the grand tradition of English murder mysteries.”—The Washington Post Book World
“With his tortured detective Ian Rutledge and the ghost who inhabits his mind . . . Charles Todd has swiftly become one of the most respected writers in the mystery genre. . . . The pair is unique among sleuths.”—The Denver Post
“Outstanding. Todd’s portrait of Rutledge and postwar England remains powerful.”—Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Two mysteries lie at the heart of Todd's atmospheric if tiresomely paced fifth historical to feature shell-shocked Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge: Why does the lifelong Anglican Herbert Baker demand a Catholic priest on his deathbed? And who kills the very same Father James a few weeks later, with a crucifix no less? Though the local constable quickly develops a theory of the crime, Rutledge's superiors send him "to reassure the Bishop that the police are doing their job properly." As in 2000's Legacy of the Dead, Rutledge is troubled by the bizarre ghost of a man he'd ordered executed for desertion during WWI, Hamish MacLeod, whose Scottish burr provides a running commentary on the external and internal events around Rutledge. The book's overall theme is a compelling one: questions of guilt and responsibility after the debacle that was WWI. But the tangle of motives and intrigue that surrounds the priest's murder is too complex (and, ultimately, too trivial) to support such a theme. And MacLeod, treated as if he were a flesh-and-blood character instead of a symptom of postwar trauma, is unsettling from a structural perspective. His interjections (heard only by Rutledge, obviously) become intrusive, not illuminative. Like previous entries in this series, this one is psychologically astute, but the narrative becomes too bogged down with the author's desire to portray postwar English village life and too weighted with the enormity of its themes.