An investigation into an 11-year-old murder unearths some surprising revelations in Inspector Ian Rutledge’s 21st case (The Gate Keeper, 2018, etc.).
Rutledge survived World War I shellshocked and living with the ghostly voice of Hamish, a comrade who died in his arms. When he helps a former soldier find his wife, the grateful man gives him a tip that might help Rutledge find one of the most wanted men in Britain, Alan Barrington, who was accused of murder over a decade earlier and hasn't been seen since. Rutledge's boss gives him the unwelcome job of following up the clue, which begins the inspector's unrelenting search for the truth. Barrington had been accused of engineering a motor crash that killed Blanche Thorne and gravely injured her second husband, Harold Fletcher-Munro. Barrington had been positive that Fletcher-Munro drove Barrington’s friend Mark Thorne to financial ruin and suicide so he could marry Blanche. Rutledge starts out by investigating Barrington’s friends, including his lawyer and estate agent, both of whom have known him for years. When each refuses to confirm or deny that he’s still alive, Rutledge begins to consider the possibility that Mark Thorne did not commit suicide but was murdered by one of the several men who wanted Blanche. Conversations with friends and relatives of the parties involved with Blanche reveal many conflicting opinions. Each snippet Rutledge gleans leads him deeper into a complex maze, but he never considers giving up even when his own wartime demons come to the fore.
Although the pace of this intricate tale is necessarily slow, the investigation and its ultimate destination are gripping.