Black Ascot by Charles Todd
ratchets up the mystery. Readers are able to get a deeper
understanding of Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge while
getting a glimpse of the social and political trends of the
Unlike many of the past plot-lines, this one focuses on a
Cold Case. Ten years ago, a woman was murdered after attending
the Black Ascot race, the famous 1910 royal horserace honoring
the late King Edward VII. The suspect, Alan Barrington, has
eluded capture and the aggressive manhunt. Now it appears
that Barrington has returned to England, and Rutledge is chosen
to conduct a quiet search under the cover of a routine review
of a cold case.
"We wanted to write as a starting off point, how a killing
surrounded this event, called the killer, the Black Ascot
Murderer. A woman was killed coming out of the races. After
Edward VII died in 1910, there was a period of royal mourning.
People thought the Ascot races should be canceled. Since the
races were an integral part of society, it was decided to
go through with it. Instead of wearing the glorious hats and
gowns as in "My Fair Lady," they decided everyone
should wear black; thus, the Black Ascot."
Determined to get into the mind of Barrington, Rutledge delves
into all of his relationships and secrets, enlisting the help
and advice of his alter-ego, Hamish. But everything seems
to be put on hold after the inspector is shot. Along with
his supervisors and family, he questions whether it was attempted
suicide, or was someone out to kill him. The only way to save
his career, and his sanity, is to find Alan Barrington and
bring him to justice.
The Todds noted, "There were two societal stigmas in
the story. Shell-shock was considered a moral failure that
reflected on the individual and their family. It was not only
a shame on the veteran but a shame on the family for producing
a coward. Families would disown sons who had lost their nerve.
We talked with readers who came up to us and said thank you
for allowing me to understand my grandfather or father now.
Veterans also say thank you, which means so much to us. With
suicide, at the time, people considered it a crime and would
put a person in jail. If someone committed suicide, they would
not be allowed to be buried in consecrated Church grounds
because it is considered a moral sin. Many times, the family
doctor would say the man who died was due to a gun going off
while cleaning and declared it an accidental death. This makes
no sense since a man could take his gun apart in the dark
during the war. Those who did it had the feeling, ‘I
have taken as much as I can take, and do not know what else
to do.' They could not talk about it and did not know where
to go to for help. They just could not cope."
Many twists and turns keep readers on their toes. Each character
has strengths and flaws that have people questioning if they
are good or bad, likable, or not.
of other titles in this series
A Test of Wills, 1 [reviews]
A False Mirror, No 7 [review]
A Long Shadow, 8 [review]
A Pale Horse, 10 [review]
A Matter of Justice, 11 [review
The Confession, 14 [review
The Black Ascot, 21 [review]