I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wings of Fire by Charles Todd

In this second of the Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard, set after World War I, Rutledge is once again sent on a fool's errand to keep him away from a more sensational murders occurring in London by a man the papers are calling the new Jack the Ripper.  This time, a woman from a prominent family has called the Yard because she suspects something is not right after the apparent double suicide of her cousins Nicholas and Olivia and the "accident" of her other relative Stephen, falling down the stairs after their deaths.  In reality, this Lady, Rachael, is in love with Nicholas and can't believe he committed suicide and if he did, then why.  She isn't at all prepared for the trouble the Inspector causes by stirring up old memories and deaths in the family.

First off there is Rosamunde, a Trevylne by birth who married a man named George and had twin
daughters Olivia and Anne.  When George died in India, she remarried a man named Mr. Cheney and had two sons by him, Richard and Nicholas and their cousin Rachel.  When he died of an "accidental" gunshot wound, she married a man named Fitzhugh, who was in charge of her racing horses and had a son named Cormac.  With him, she had twins, Suzanna and Stephen.  The first to die was Anne.  She "fell" out of a tree when she was a young girl.  Then Richard, who went missing when he was a very young boy.  Then Cheney and eventually Fitzhugh, who supposedly fell off his horse on the beach, with a blow to the head.  Lastly was Rosamunde, who "accidentally" took an overdose of laudanum for sleep, just when she was getting her life back and was seeing a new man.

It soon becomes apparent that someone in the family is an evil murderer and Olivia is either that person or is protecting the one who is, perhaps Nicholas.  The house was left to Olivia in her grandfather's will because he didn't want the Fitzhughs getting it, as they were slightly lower class than his family.  Olivia, a cripple never left home and Nicholas remained by her side for the rest of their lives until that fateful night when they either committed suicide or one was murdered and the other committed suicide, or perhaps, even stranger, someone killed them both.

Rutledge, with the voice of the soldier he had killed for desertion during the war, still yelling in his ear that the only reason he doesn't want the murderer to be Olivia is because of her haunting and moving poetry that got many soldiers through the war and was thought to be written by a man, as only a man could know the horrors of which she wrote.  And if it was Olivia or Nicholas, does it truly matter if they're dead?  That's what Rachel wants to know.  She refuses to let him betray Nicholas if he is the killer and he refuses to let it go if it is Olivia.  But there's also the death of Stephen, who inherited Olivia's papers.  Did he find something in them that caused someone to somehow cause him to fall down the stairs?   Or was his death really just an unfortunate accident?

The more you read, the more uncertain you become of who the killer is and what really happened.  It's like a tennis match going back and forth until you're dizzy trying to figure out what really happened.  Rutledge turns to Olivia's poetry and finds some answers, and also a collection of "trophies" from the murdered victims hidden in her room.  Did she put them there, or someone else?  With no proof, he must depend on the small amounts of accounts from the townspeople of the time, especially Sadie, a senile old woman, who has lived through it all and knows more than she is telling, to form the whole picture and find the killer.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wings-Fire-Inspector-Rutledge-Mysteries/dp/0312965680/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471612371&sr=1-1&keywords=wings+of+fire+by+ian+rutledge

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