Books

Book review: 'Divided Loyalty'

Ian Rutledge struggles in Charles Todd's 22nd novel

Charles Todd’s exquisitely calibrated novels about Scotland Yard Insp. Ian Rutledge set post-World War I continue to set new standards, even in this, his 22nd novel. Although The Great War ended more than a century ago, Todd’s novels could easily be set in the 21st century, as former soldier Ian’s personal issues and the cases he is involved with are relevant today.

In “A Divided Loyalty,” Ian is dispatched to the village of Avebury that was built around a Stonehenge-like prehistoric stone circle located in southwest England’s Wiltshire area. Ian is following up on the murder of an unidentified woman whose body was found in the stone circle. The case originally was assigned to Ian’s colleague, Chief Insp. Brian Leslie, who was unable to solve the case.

But, as is revealed very early, Brian manipulated the case because not only did he know the woman but he also knows how she was murdered. Ian is uncomfortable taking on a case first handled by a superior — and a friend. But as Ian delves deeper into the case, he finds discrepancies he cannot ignore.

As usual, the aftermath of WWI plays heavily in this latest novel. Set in 1921, Ian continues to try to hide how the war affected him because being shell shocked was considered an act of cowardice. Each person dealt with the war differently as Todd so poignantly shows with each character. Ian’s resilience and his complex persona continue to make him an endearing character.

Todd, the mother-and-son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd, continue their superior storytelling with “A Divided Loyalty.”

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