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Wings of Fire


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About the Author

Charles Todd lives on America's East Coast, but he knows England well. Intrigued by puzzles in the human spirit, he is the author of the critically acclaimed Inspector Ian Rutledge series, including Wings of Fire and Search the Dark.


In a brilliant return after his introduction in A Test of Wills (1996), Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is dispatched to Cornwall to investigate three deaths‘seemingly a double-suicide and an accident‘that have occurred within weeks in the Trevelyan family. Still recovering from shell shock sustained while serving in France during WWI, Rutledge carries in his head the challenging voice of Hamish MacLeod, a Scottish soldier about whose battlefront death Rutledge experiences profound guilt. In the village of Borcombe, Rutledge learns that one of the apparent suicides, Olivia Marlowe, wrote as O.A. Manning, a poet whose work had uncannily captured both the misery of war and the passion and beauty of love. Olivia Marlowe and her devoted half-brother Nicholas Cheney died of poisoning within hours of each other. Another half-brother, Stephen FitzHugh, the only family member opposed to selling the family estate where Olivia and Nicholas lived, fell down the stairs to his death not long after the funeral. Searching for answers about the deaths and for an understanding of the poet, Rutledge finds himself on a decades-long trail of cleverly disguised murders. Todd's cast is sometimes hard to keep straight, but readers will find it hard to resist following Rutledge on this emotionally intense quest. 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. (Mar.)

Called to Cornwall, Scotland Yard's Inspector Ian Rutledge (A Test of Wills, LJ 8/96) investigates three suspicious deaths in the same prominent family. First, a crippled woman and her half-brother apparently commit suicide; then, another half-brother dies in an accidental fall. Not only does Rutledge's search expose well-hidden family skeletons and motives for murder, it also provides ample opportunity for input from the inner voice he has heard since returning from the trenches of World War I. Splendid imagery, in-depth characterization, and glimpses of more than one wounded psyche: an excellent historical mystery for all collections.

YA-England's Cornish coast proves the perfect setting for Todd's second Ian Rutledge novel. Still suffering from the shell shock he experienced in World War I, Inspector Rutledge of Scotland Yard goes to Cornwall to look into three recent deathsÄa double suicide and an apparent accidentÄall involving members of the same prominent local family. The inspector learns that one of the suicides, crippled and reclusive Olivia Marlowe, was actually O. A. Manning, a celebrated poet whose work so effectively captured the misery and passions of love and war. For Rutledge, Manning's work had been a mainstay in his times of deep emotional distress. Intrigued by this discovery, he then gets further drawn into the lives, past and present, of this very complicated and death-prone family. The atmosphere alone is enough to hold both history buffs and mystery fans. That, plus the finely drawn characters and a captivating plot, result in a book that is hard to put down.-Pamela B. Rearden, Centreville Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA

"Fine writing. A spectacular conclusion that rejuvenates the cliche 'It was a dark and stormy night.'" --Washington Post Book World "A strong mystery, filled with fine characterizations [and] a superb eye for Cornwall...Wise and wily." --The Boston Globe "[Todd wraps] his challenging plot, complex characters, and subtle psychological insights in thick layers of atmosphere." --The New York Times Book Review

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