New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd takes readers into Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge’s past—to his perplexing final case before the outbreak of World War I.
On a fine summer’s day in June, 1914, Ian Rutledge pays little notice to the assassination of an archduke in Sarajevo. An Inspector at Scotland Yard, he is planning to propose to the woman whom he deeply loves, despite intimations from friends and family that she may not be the wisest choice.
To the north on this warm and gentle day, another man in love—a Scottish Highlander—shows his own dear girl the house he will build for her in September. While back in England, a son awaits the undertaker in the wake of his widowed mother’s death. This death will set off a series of murders across England, seemingly unconnected, that Rutledge will race to solve in the weeks before the fateful declaration in August that will forever transform his world.
As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, all of Britain wonders and waits. With every moment at stake, Rutledge sets out to right a wrong—an odyssey that will eventually force him to choose between the Yard and his country, between love and duty, and between honor and truth.
Series fans will appreciate Todd's 17th Ian Rutledge mystery (after 2014's Hunting Shadows), a prequel set in the summer of 1914. Rutledge, a Scotland Yard inspector, has just gotten engaged, and as the guns of August loom, he lands a tricky murder case in Dorset. Furniture maker Ben Clayton who had no obvious enemies was hanged from his staircase by an intruder. More deaths follow, but a scene that Todd (the mother-son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd) presents early on makes this a thriller rather than a whodunit. The writing is as sharp as ever, but without the series regular Hamish MacLeod, whom Rutledge was forced to execute during WWI for disobeying orders and who subsequently haunts the shell-shocked Rutledge as a sort of ghostly Watson, newcomers won't appreciate how extraordinary this series is. Five-city author tour.