Inspector Ian Rutledge, the World War I hero of "A Test of Wills", makes his second appearance, investigating the mysterious deaths of three members of the same family in Cornwall. Accompanying Rutledge is his constant "companion", Hamish, the young Scot whom he had to execute on the battlefield and whose tormenting voice in Rutledge's head forces him to face unpleasant truths National author tour .
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When A Test of Wills, Charles Todd's first mystery about a shell-shocked World War I veteran, came out, it was such an original and successfully executed concept that readers were torn between wanting more and wondering how he could possibly pull off a sequel. Todd does it very simply: he pushes the gimmick sideways and makes his Scotland Yard detective, Ian Rutledge, much more personally involved in the death of one of the possible murder victims than he was in the first book. While the voice of Hamish, the Scottish soldier he executed for battlefield cowardice, still growls in his mind, Inspector Rutledge also feels very deeply about Olivia Marlowe, a supposed suicide in the Cornwall town of Borcombe. He knew her as O. A. Manning, a poet whose books, especially the love poems collected in Wings of Fire, were "light and warmth and beauty intermingled with such passion that they sang in the heart as you read them. Wings of Fire had touched him in ways that few things had." Olivia's death, along with that of two members of her family, have brought Rutledge from London to investigate. But, as a sharp local clergyman tells him, "Be sure your own ghosts don't infringe on your logical mind--don't rain havoc on Borcombe in search of your own absolution."From the Publisher:
"[Todd wraps] his challenging plot, complex characters, and subtle psychological insights in thick layers of atmosphere." --The New York Times Book Review
"Fine Writing. A spectacular conclusion that rejuvenates the cliche 'It was a dark and stormy night.'" --Washington Post Book World
"A strong mystery, filled with fine characterizations [and] a superb eye for Cornwall...Wise and wily." --The Boston Globe
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