THE GATE KEEPER
by Charles Todd
(Feb. 2018, Harper Collins/Wm Morrow)
320 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0062678713
When Stephen Wentworth climbs down from his motorcar to talk to the person standing in the country road that leads to the village of Wolf Pit, he has no idea that he is not going to see Christmas 1920. Nor does his companion, Miss McRae, expect to see him shot through the heart at close range. Scotland Yard Detective Ian Rutledge, whose sister Frances has just been married, takes leave from Scotland Yard to sort his feelings. Restless, he decides to take a drive (longer than he expects) and discovers he is on his way to Ipswich. He shrugs it off and continues until he has to put on the brakes to avoid the car in the road and the woman with bloodied hands standing over a man’s lifeless body. The deceased is a well-liked bookstore owner, and Rutledge tells the Yard he’s on the case.
And what a case it is! Rutledge finds there is nothing routine about the murder, and no real suspect emerges as he digs into the Wentworth family’s cold treatment of the victim. The villagers and monied residents alike have no dark tales to tell, and when a second murder victim is discovered, the sinister mystery intensifies. Rutledge has to piece the puzzle together by investigating people who appear to be strangers or mere acquaintances. A third murder in Sussex gets his attention, and even though Stevenson is on that case, he tracks down a man who started the catastrophic events in Wolf Pit. The problem is, he’s been murdered as well. Even so, Rutledge has enough to go on, so when he returns to Wolf Pit, he works his detection to a solution that stuns the reader to no end.
It is fortunate Rutledge was driving to Ipswich that night. The murder victims would have been buried after inquests that stated the murderer was unknown. This novel has the reader speculating from the start, and as usual with any Todd novel, the reader is taken aback by all the interwoven plot elements that are tied together in the end. concerned will never be the same. Certainly not Ian Rutledge’s life as he confronts another difficult case.
About the Reviewer:
Liz Phillips is a middle school educator and writer living in Southwest Virginia, a forgotten place in the Appalachian Mountains. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.