In Charles Todd's Wings of Fire, Inspector Ian Rutledge is quickly sent to investigate the sudden deaths of three members of the same eminent Cornwall family, but the World War I veteran soon realizes that nothing about this case is routine. Including the identity of one of the dead, a reclusive spinster unmasked as O. A. Manning, whose war poetry helped Rutledge retain his grasp on sanity in the trenches of France. Guided by the voice of Hamish, the Scot he unwillingly executed on the battlefield, Rutledge is driven to uncover the haunting truths of murder and madness rooted in a family crypt...
In a brilliant return after his introduction in A Test of Wills (1996), Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is dispatched to Cornwall to investigate three deaths--seemingly a double-suicide and an accident--that have occurred within weeks in the Trevelyan family. Still recovering from shell shock sustained while serving in France during WWI, Rutledge carries in his head the challenging voice of Hamish MacLeod, a Scottish soldier about whose battlefront death Rutledge experiences profound guilt. In the village of Borcombe, Rutledge learns that one of the apparent suicides, Olivia Marlowe, wrote as O.A. Manning, a poet whose work had uncannily captured both the misery of war and the passion and beauty of love. Olivia Marlowe and her devoted half-brother Nicholas Cheney died of poisoning within hours of each other. Another half-brother, Stephen FitzHugh, the only family member opposed to selling the family estate where Olivia and Nicholas lived, fell down the stairs to his death not long after the funeral. Searching for answers about the deaths and for an understanding of the poet, Rutledge finds himself on a decades-long trail of cleverly disguised murders. Todd's cast is sometimes hard to keep straight, but readers will find it hard to resist following Rutledge on this emotionally intense quest. Memorable characters, subtle plot twists, the evocative seaside setting and descriptions of architecture, the moors and the sea fully reward the attention this novel commands.