Thanks, Caroline and Charles, for stopping by! Happy New Year!
Charles and Caroline Todd are the best selling authors of the post-WWI historical Inspector Ian Rutledge series and the WWI series featuring Bess Crawford. The latest Inspector Ian Rutledge, A LONELY DEATH, comes out Jan. 4, 2011.
Charles Todd (Caroline and Charles Todd):
When we wrote the New Year’s Eve scene in A LONG SHADOW, we were thinking about the fact that the turn of a year is in a way a very emotional time. Auld Lang Syne is written in a minor key because at the stroke of midnight as people sing it, they aren’t looking forward to the upcoming year, they’re looking back, after the first flush of excitement and champagne as the ball drops.
In Inspector Ian Rutledge’s case, this was the end of a troubled year, and it’s brought home to him at a dinner party he’s attending on December 31st, 1919. The guest of honor, a young woman named Meredith Channing, invited to conduct a séance later for the amusement of all the guests, appears to know too much about his past for him to be quite comfortable in her presence. And when a call from the Yard interrupts his evening, he leaps at the chance to leave early, before the séance where he might well make a fool of himself if somehow Hamish is brought into it. He knows how unlikely that is, but the emotional burden of the past is too strong for reason. He makes his excuses and walks out—only to stumble, almost literally, into a worse reminder of the past, a machinegun shell casing left on the house steps. He recognizes the sound as it tumbles into the gutter, and he looks for it. When he finds it, he realizes that the design of poppies and skulls is intended to bring back the Great War in a threatening and terrifying way. What he doesn’t know is that someone is trying to break him by putting his life and his sanity in jeopardy.
Even as he goes about his duties as a policeman, this invisible stalker follows him, seeming to know even before he does where he will be, and how to test his courage and his mettle.
New Year’s Eve seemed to fit this theme as Rutledge moves into the dark, bleak depths of winter, facing the powerful forces of the case he must solve, and always, at his back, feeling the presence of his enemy, unseen, unknown, and seemingly unstoppable. Somehow the bright warmth of high summer or the wildflowers of spring or even the golden sunlight of autumn would have lessened, not enhanced, this story as it unfolds.
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