Racing the Devil: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery
It’s the eve of the battle of the Somme. In a French barn, seven British officers, virtual strangers, are drinking wine procured by an enterprising sergeant. In an act of bravado, they pledge to meet in Paris one year after the war and race their cars to Nice. After this intriguing opening, the action flows fast and furious: one car in the race is almost rammed off the road; another crashes; and shortly thereafter, a third, owned by one of the officers but driven by a cleric, is pushed off a coastal road in Sussex. In steps Scotland Yard’s Inspector Rutledge, a man suffering from his own war demon, a disembodied voice offering free advice. The rest of the story tells how he figures out what connects these events, dealing, along the way, with an assortment of clues, some misleading, all perplexing, and a collection of locals, some helpful, others suspicious. Perhaps the risk-taking murderer attempts and accomplishes more than can be reasonably expected of any one individual, and perhaps the dialogue could be better differentiated according to the speaker’s social status, but these quibbles aside, Racing the Devil is a well-crafted and entertaining mystery. Definitely worth reading.