Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Gate Keeper Presented by Partners in Crime Writing The Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery Series! Out Today!

Bestseller Todd's "dramatically intense" mystery explores "sleuth's inner torments" post-WWI in THE GATE KEEPER (2/6/18)
In this landmark installment of the series, Rutledge is tormented by a very present Hamish—the Watson to his Sherlock—the echo in his mind of a young soldier he was forced to execute on the battlefield for refusing a direct order.
The Gate Keeper features one of Todd’s cleverest plots to date and showcases the intriguing village of Wolf Pit—which has the notorious history of the place where the last wolf in England was killed in Medieval times. This setting gave the writers the inspiration to include a unique calling card for a cunning killer. And at the center of the story is a quiet bookshop, its essence belying a horrific crime. Amid a tangle of jealousy, greed, and a vicious hatred, the truth hinges on one man’s persistence and courage, a chance encounter, and three words: THE GATE KEEPER.
Booklist calls THE GATE KEEPER, “tightly plotted, gracefully written, and dramatically intense,” while Publishers Weekly adds in a starred review of THE GATE KEEPER, “As always, Todd deepens their crafty whodunit with a moving exploration of their astute sleuth’s inner torments.”
Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother-and-son writing team, they live on the East Coast.

The Gate Keeper
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery

By Charles Todd

Too many memories...
Tired now, having to blink his eyes to keep them from closing, he knew he'd have to find somewhere to sleep, and soon, if he wasn't to run off the road into a ditch. And that, he told himself, he could not do. Nothing must cloud Frances's happiness.
Hamish had--blessedly--been silent all day. As Rutledge was getting dressed, driving to the house to meet his sister, then to the wedding, the reception, it was the one thing he'd feared, that the war would come back and shame him, frighten Frances and her guests, and expose his nightmare for all the world to see. Somehow, he'd held the past at bay. It had taken all the will he possessed, but somehow it had worked.
Now, tired as he was, lonely as he felt, he was vulnerable, and suddenly Hamish was there in the motorcar with him, sitting in the seat behind him, a voice in his ear. Corporal Hamish MacLeon was dead, buried in France. Rutledge was as sure of that as any man could be. After all, he'd shot Hamish, and watched the light fade from his eyes as he died. He'd heard the young Scot's last whisper before he'd pulled the trigger in the coup de grace: Fiona. The woman Hamish loved and wanted more than his life itself to come home to. And yet, knowing the cost, Hamish had refused to lean any more men into the teeth of the machine-gun nest that had already killed too many of them. And Rutledge had had no choice but to make an example of him. It had to be done, or none of the men in his command would have followed him over the top again. What's more, they would have faced court-martial and, most certainly, another firing squad. Sacrifice one man to save many. Send them over the top to silence the machine gun, before it killed more men tomorrow when the big push began.
He shook his head, trying to shove those memories back into the shadows. Trying to stop Hamish while he could, but it was too late, and the brightness of the headlamps became the flashes of artillery fire, followed by the machine guns. 
And the war was back.
He fought it, and never knew how many miles he'd driven by rote, unaware of where he was and what he was doing, his hands gripping the wheel as he'd gripped his revolver and his whistle.
The screams of the wounded and dying filled his mind, and he shouted to his men, encouraging them, urging them on, and all the while he cursed himself as one by one they fell.
Without warning, the sounds began to recede and the darkness in his mind once more became the bright beams of his leadlamps probing the night.
And almost too late he saw what they picked out just ahead of him.
A motorcar was stopped in the middle of the road, its doors standing wide. He'd hardly taken that in when he realized there was a woman in the road too, bending over the body of someone--a man--lying haphazardly at her feet.
Rutledge was already pulling hard on the brake, bringing the heavy motorcar to a skidding halt not twenty feet from the rear of the other vehicle. It was then he saw one more piece of the tableau in front of him.
There was blood on the woman's hands.
The woman looked up, staring toward him in dismay, fright filling her eyes as she stood there like stone, all color washed out of her face, and the blood on her hands black in the brightness bridging the gap between them.

Wow! If you are looking for a solid mystery, you've found it in The Gate Keeper! In a 1920s historical setting, when there were few automobiles and even fewer telephones, readers are in for a treat to see police investigative activities without much assistance. Using only his mind, his observation skills, and making copious notes, Ian Rutledge proves to be an exceptional member of Scotland Yard.

But Ian is not without problems...namely, he has a voice in his head that is present at all times, including some that are inconvenient! Readers will learn how that came about, but I was not quite sure whether he was haunted or allowed the voice to continue due to guilt. You see, sometimes Hamish saw things before Ian did and sometimes he would begin to talk while Ian was interviewing a witness, so as to disrupt the conversation.  I found it haunting to listen to and couldn't help but see the effects of PTSD happening... I was overwhelmed with great sympathy for what this man had gone through in the war... and yet I was angry at what he did...as his duty...

"Constable Penny, sir," he said. What's
this about a body?"
Rutledge took him to see where
Wentworth was lying, and heard the
low whistle as Penny recognized the
dead man...
"He lives in Wolfpit. Owns a bookshop
there. But who shot him?"
..."That was wrong of you, sir. Meddling
with the crime scene."
"Yes, well, we don't know where the
shooter went, and I'd rather be in
possession of his firearm than find it
pointed at me when my back was
Ian had taken vacation to attend his sister's wedding. He was so happy for her, but, realizing she was the only family member he had, he was already feeling lonely and decided to go ahead and drive on into the night. But as often happened, flashbacks into his time during the war came, leaving a corner of his mind to drive while he was tortured by memories...

It was bright lights that brought him back to the present, especially when he saw a car in front of him and a woman standing over what appeared to be a body.

Needless to say, he claimed the case for himself, even though his superiors thought he was more a witness and should not become involved. Rutledge persisted... Readers will see that Inspector Rutledge is a persistent, driving officer who moves quickly and relentlessly to solve a crime...

Besides, if he took the case, he wouldn't need to immediately return to London and his empty new quarters...

The murder(s) is unusual. An individual comes face-to-face with the victim, shoots him in the heart, and melts away before anybody realizes it. The first shot was the owner of a local bookshop. The second murder was of another Wolfpit resident, a local farmer... There seemed to be nothing that tied these two men in any way.

Readers become involved in helping to solve the case. There are no clues, even though two gems are provided: A note from the first victim with "The Gate Keeper" written a number of times. A small carved animal, a wolf, that had been left at the two murders and Ian had been fortunate to find them. In essence, this solidified that both murders were surely by one person. But who and why were the real problems!

Rutledge takes a room at a local Inn and from there, he walks or drives to various sites where potential witnesses live... What happens, if the individual lets him in is that he begins to gather information about the two deceased men. But don't expect to even get close to solving the mystery before he does at the climax... I love it when I can't solve a mystery! Don't you?!

In addition to Rutledge and Hamish who readers will recognize as two different characters carrying on discussions, even if one only lives in Rutledge's mind. most of the village people were interesting to meet and learn of the town's activities and knowledge of the bookshop owner and farmer. Both had been well-liked and important members of their village and would be missed...

But the parents of Stephen Wentworth present a picture of childhood that is not easily forgotten...or forgiven...even in reading the story. At least for me. Indeed, both of the victims had sad back stories, which served to pull this reader even further into the novel... The tedious investigation makes the pace slower, as Ian travels from place to place and must wait for responses from the one telephone before he can followup on some of the people. But that does not allow attention of the reader to stray. The Gate Keeper is a solid intriguing mystery. The characters easily fill in time between actual advancement of the investigation and discovering how everything falls together or is clarified before the end makes for an extremely fulfilling novel. This is the 20th in the series and I certainly recommend it to you, while I will probably start looking backward to find what other cases Ian gets himself into! Do check it out!


By Charles Todd
Another Ian Rutledge Mystery!

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