A confession presents more questions than it answers.
Inspector Ian Rutledge (A Lonely Death, 2011, etc.) listens attentively to the Scotland Yard walk-in who says that his name is Wyatt Russell, that he’s dying of cancer and that he murdered his cousin Justin Fowler in 1915 and is admitting it now, five years later, so that he can rest in peace. Wondering if his tale is true, Rutledge heads for the man’s home at River’s Edge, near Furnham in the Essex marshes, and encounters extremely unfriendly villagers anxious to send him on his way. Two weeks later, when the man’s body washes up in the Thames with a bullet in the back of the head, Rutledge’s queries become more serious. He discovers that the victim was not who he claimed to be, though a clue to his real identity may lie in the picture in the locket around his neck. Questions about that picture lead to birth and death notices at Somerset House and the disturbing knowledge that Mrs. Russell, once the matriarch of the deserted River’s Edge house, upped and disappeared one day. Suicide? Or something more sinister? Cynthia Farraday, who seems to have attracted all the males on the estate, appears. So does the real Wyatt Russell, just in time to be assailed. Who then was the confessor? Rutledge won’t settle matters until he unravels a long-ago double homicide and delves into the mysterious enmity of the River’s Edge residents.
Rutledge, still consumed with his own war memories, seems headed for a fierce emotional collapse this time out. One fervently hopes the Todd writing partnership can offer him solace in the next go-round.