Charles Todd's Inspector Ian Rutledge, the shell-shocked veteran and Scotland Yard detective, has his fifteenth mystery to solve in this mother-and-son writing team's latest work, "Proof of Guilt." (William Morrow, 343 pages)
Inspector Rutledge is called in to investigate what appears to be a fatal hit and run case. Although the victim had no identification on him, he carried an expensive gold watch that Rutledge traced to a jeweler in Lisbon, Portugal, and was owned by Lewis French, the head of French, French and Traynor, producers and importers of fine Madeira wine.
But the mystery deepens when the sister of Lewis French insists that the dead man in the police morgue is not her brother, though he has been missing for days. When another partner in the firm, Matthew Traynor, turns up missing, Rutledge suspects that the two cases are related and foul play is involved.
While his new superior, Chief Superintendent Markham, insists the matter is rooted in a past love affair gone wrong between Mr. French and his jilted fiancee, Miss Whitman, Rutledge discovers evidence that the matter is rooted in the business practices of the firm.
The authors weave the classic British mystery with a brooding psychological drama in their character Inspector Ian Rutledge, a World War I veteran, who bears the crushing burden of having caused the death of Hamish MacLeod, the friend whom he had executed for disobedience during the Great War.
Wounded in the very marrow of his being, Rutledge is tormented by "that voice, neither specter nor friend nor rational thought" of Hamish, who has become a part of his tormented soul.
As the disturbed detective struggles to keep his psyche on a somewhat even keel, he is challenged with unravelling a complicated case of murder or having another innocent man's death on his conscience, as the firm's senior clerk, Frederick Gooding, is set to be tried for a murder.
While struggling with this murky case, Rutledge receives another shock. He is soon to lose his sole source of comfort and solace - his sister, Frances, plans on being married.
One suspects that Charles Todd will pen even more dramatic chapters in this story of the shell-shocked veteran turned Scotland Yard detective, Ian Rutledge.