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By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Charles Todd
The question of whether a British officer serving in India in the early 20th century killed his parents and then disappeared is the pivot around which this mystery evolves.
There is no Christmas cheer in a British garrison in India in 1857. In the wake of the massacre of Cawnpore in which men, women and children were slaughtered, there is only despair. The atmosphere of the not-exactly-festive "A Christmas Garland" is made even darker by the killing of a guard and the escape of an Indian prisoner because the culprit is suspected to be John Tallis, a British medical orderly with no history of problems or violence.
This is murder in the midst of the trench warfare of World War I, exacerbated by a lethal Spanish influenza that took millions of victims in an era otherwise predominated by military and civilian death.
Ian Rutledge, Britain's most haunted detective, is back in another dark and gripping saga linked to the grief of World War I. Charles Todd's latest book is launched when a dying man walks into Rutledge's office at Scotland Yard and confesses to killing his cousin during the war.
Perhaps the saddest truth of war is that it corrodes all it touches. In "Bitter Truth," Charles Todd's theme is war, and as is the case in his earlier novels, plot is sublimated to historic events, in this case those of World War I.
Three murders in a small Sussex village in England are linked by the fact that the victims were all former soldiers in World War I, all were garroted and in the mouth of each was a small identification disk.
Ruth Cavin, a longtime and late-blooming editor at St. Martin's Press who worked on hundreds of mystery novels in a career that began in her 60s and became so revered she was unofficially known as the "First Lady of Mysteries" has died.
Charles Todd's "An Impartial Witness" is haunted by the horror of World War I as it affected those who fought it and tried to forget it, if they lived through it.