Heading into the Battle of Somme, where death is waiting, a group of English officers make a promise to each other over drinks. The deal is that anyone who survives the war will meet in Paris a year after it ends to race each other via motorcars to Nice.
Few make it through the brutal war alive, but each honors their pact and–through various forms–obtain access to motorcars for the race. What starts out as fun takes a tragic turn and only gets worse from there.
As the five racers near Nice, one of the drivers is badly hurt after someone attempts to run two cars off the twisting, darkened mountain trail.
The following year, Rector Wright, the rector of the local church in East Sussex, dies in a car accident on a rainy night. Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge is called to investigate, and he quickly uncovers that the motorcar actually belonged to a World War I veteran who never gave Wright his consent to borrow the vehicle.
It doesn’t take long for readers or Rutledge to see the similarities of the two accidents. While it’s possible Wright may have lost control and crashed, careful examination of the situation offers another possibility: Someone deliberately caused the crash that killed Rector Wright, except he wasn’t their target. Instead, the murderer may have been targeting the vehicle’s owner, General Standish, believing he was the one behind the wheel at the time of the crash.
As Rutledge continues his investigation, he comes across several interesting characters who help drive the story forward. What originally seems like a straightforward mystery soon becomes as twisty as the mountainous roads where Wright was killed.
While well-written, the story does veer too far off course at times, causing the pacing to stall here and there before eventually recovering. Todd’s (who is actually the mother and son writing duo of Charles and Caroline Todd) best work by far is his ability to place readers in France 1919, where the story is set.
Ian Rutledge remains an interesting character. The renowned Scotland Yard inspector possesses the ability to communicate with a dead friend who offers insight from time to time on the investigation itself, as well as other things. The book is well-written but lacks the pacing and suspense to keep readers engaged and flipping pages as fast as previous entries in Todd’s long-running series.
Racing The Devil is a solid mystery and a nice addition to Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge franchise. Long-time fans will enjoy seeing their hero back in action, while newcomers will appreciate the author’s attention to detail.
Author: Charles Todd
Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge #12
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: February 14, 2017 (Order Now!)