Each of Charles Todd’s engrossing novels about Scotland Yard Insp. Ian Rutledge, set post-World War I, puts a spotlight on often forgotten details about the Great War. It’s this minutia that illustrate the war’s effect on the characters and the region ... The tightly calibrated plot is interwoven with the Wales landscape as Ian travels to various villages, to the Telford Aqueduct where an isolated community of narrowboat men are suspicious of outsiders. Ian meets — and understands — how now-civilians are haunted by those who didn’t make it back from battle.
Ardent readers of this Charles Todd series may regret that Hamish’s abrupt and caustic voice, so quick to warn Rutledge of danger, is not especially present in A Fatal Lie. Nor are the other aspects of this investigator’s own grief-stricken life: the betrayals in love, the desperate need for honest friendship, the sense of being forever lost in a peacetime that doesn’t grasp and won’t admit what he’s endured and how the war has broken him ... Yet for that very reason, A Fatal Lie provides an excellent book with which to walk into Rutledge’s pursuit of crime and determination to make things right. It also gives a haunting introduction to the perils and fierce protectiveness of Welsh culture, a setting in which long-term vindictiveness can flourish and persist, if Rutledge fails to grasp the forces in play and the motives that may stem as much from love as from malice ... s a police procedural, also, the book’s persistent untangling of motive, means, and opportunity provides an instant classic for this mystery genre, along with an intriguing exploration of the heart’s effects on the mind.
Todd’s Ian Rutledge series continues to display both quality and consistency in this twenty-third installment ... Regular series readers will note that Ian seems more tortured than usual by his internal companion, Hamish MacLeod ... As usual, Hamish makes only brief appearances in the book, but his presence looms large over the whole story. He’s like a filter: everything Rutledge says and does is colored by guilt over having caused the death of a good man. A must-read for series fans.