The mother and son writing team behind Charles Todd are so consistent; they release two books a year without ever sacrificing quality. What is truly amazing is that they never write the same book twice. Next week, The Gate Keeper will be released. This is the twentieth book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. And it just may be the best one yet.
Writing as Charles Todd, this duo use their historical knowledge to flesh out stories that feel organic to their characters, location, and time-period – all cleverly constructed with very strong crime plotting.
The Gate Keeper once again takes Rutledge out of his comfort zone. While out driving following his sister’s wedding, Rutledge arrives upon the scene of what appears to be a broken down motor vehicle. What he finds instead is a woman standing over the dead body of a man. She insists that they were stopped by a stranger who standing in the middle of the road, and that he then shot her companion and ran off into the woods.
Since he is a witness after the fact, Rutledge follows the authorities to the village of Wolf Pit, but it isn’t very long before he begins to think this case is more complex than it appears. Ian convinces Scotland Yard to allow his to take on the inquiry and another death soon confirms his worst fears.
The Gate Keeper, like all of the Rutledge books, also features Hamish MacLeod – the disembodied voice of a slain soldier who has long haunted Ian. Fans of Hamish will delight in knowing that Hamish features more heavily in this series entry than he has in some of the more recent books. Something about this case is making Ian Rutledge confront his past in a new way and Hamish is always there in the back of his mind, providing commentary and guidance.
Charles Todd brings history to vivid life. Wolf Pit almost becomes a character in this outing. And bibliophiles will love that the first victim was the owner of a small local bookstore – and that the crime at hand is potentially tied to that fact. As Rutledge interviews the various citizens of this town, readers get a really sense of what a community such as this would be like; and unfortunately, how a violent death would shatter their illusions.
This series is beloved by so many readers and much of that is due to the authors’ commitment to their characters. Fans have faith in them as storytellers; but this book in particular would work just as well as a standalone or entry point into the series for new readers. It is a rare case when a book this far into a series can still surprise, but that is exactly what The Gate Keeper does. Highly recommended for historical mystery fans.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.