Wings of Fire
The New York Times Book Review named Charles Todd’s spectacular debut, A Test of Wills, one of its Notable Books of the Year for 1996, and it received an Edgar nomination for Best First Mystery. Now Inspector Rutledge makes his greatly anticipated second appearance, in a book with the kind of richly developed characters, layered plot, and luminous British village scenes that distinguished its predecessor.
In Cornwall, England, three members of the same family have suddenly died. Among the dead is Olivia, the reclusive writer whose war poetry gave Ian Rutledge a handhold on sanity while he fought in the trenches of France. Although no evidence indicates foul play, a concerned and influential relative suspects that the deaths are actually murders, and she convinces Scotland Yard to send someone for a thorough investigation. Rutledge’s rival, Bowles, sees the Cornwall incident as an opportunity to get the shell-shocked World War I veteran away from London, where a recent Ripper-style killing spree promises celebrity for the detective who can crack the case.
Accompanying the Inspector to Cornwall is Rutledge’s constant “companion” Hamish, the young Scot whom he unwillingly had to execute on the battlefield and whose tormenting voice sounds in Rutledge’s head, forcing him to face unpleasant truths.
In this wonderfully atmospheric novel, Charles Todd examines the complexities of British family life and the unique artistry of a talented poet. Wings of Fire will fascinate readers with its beautifully drawn characters and unerring period detail.
Praise for Wings of Fire
“A remarkable village mystery… . Drive-by characters of great psychological complexity… . [Todd wraps] his challenging plot, complex characters and subtle psychological insights in thick layers of atmosphere.”
—New York Times Book Review
“A strong mystery, filled with fine characterizations, a superb eye for Cornwall and post-World War I attitudes, and a wise and wily explanation of how some of us deal with guilt.”
“A brilliant return… . Memorable characters, subtle plot twists, the evocative seaside setting and descriptions of architecture, the moors and the sea fully reward the attention this novel commands.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Todd writes exceptionally about a time when people found not just meaning but healing in poetry, when intuition was viewed as a kind of ’second sight,’ and when everyone was stamped by war—not just the legless men, but also the women who lost their loves and so their futures.”
—San Jose Mercury News
“Todd’s writing is graceful and evocative of a bygone time and place.”
Imprint: St. Martin’s Press