River of Darkness, Rennie Airth

Woohoo!  Between-the-wars-in-England stories are my favorite kind!  Plus, this is a mystery (I sometimes like mysteries), and although I read the end, I didn’t need to read the end necessarily, because the killer’s identity is known to the reader for most of the book.  Lovely.  Only way to do it.  See, the suspense then wasn’t about who done it, but whether he would do it again!  (I will just tell you – he would.)

In River of Darkness, Inspector John Madden, a copper scarred by his time in the trenches in the recently-over World War I, is called in on a case of brutal murder.  Colonel and Lady Fletcher, along with two of their servants, were slaughtered in their manor home, and no motive can be found for the crime.  The Scotland Yard higher-ups are inclined to view it as a robbery gone wrong, but Madden is certain there’s more to it.  Like MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADNESS.

(That was weird.  However, I have an excuse: I just finally got internet in my apartment this morning, and it is wonderful to finally have internet, and it’s making me a little giddy.  Surrsly, y’all, I cannot do without the internet.  I know it’s bad to be dependent on technology, but I JUST AM.)

I thought the book was a good post-WWI type book.  The war has obviously left scars on the protagonist, John Madden, but also on the country and its people.  There’s some fairly pointed criticism of the army – World War I was awful, eh? – and you see how the war shaped all of the people in the novel, those who were at the front, those who weren’t able to go, the women who stayed home and waited for their brothers and husbands and fathers.  Plus, cause there was a GREAT BIG PSYCHOPATH.  It was v. suspenseful wondering whether they’d catch him before he struck again!  (Except not for me cause I hate suspense and I read ahead.)

I really enjoyed this!  I need more mysteries set after World War I!  Or just regular books set after World War I!

Thanks to litlove for the recommendation!

  • Jenny

    Mysteries set after WWI: Laurie King’s Mary Russell series. Can’t be beat! I love this period, too, and this one sounds very enjoyable.

    • I have heard nothing but good things about the Mary Russell books since I started my book blog, and I still haven’t gotten around to reading them for some reason. They sound right up my alley! I am going to get one soon, I swear!

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed this! I loved it. Apparently the author has written two other novels with John Madden in and I will be looking out for them. Other books about this era include all the detective stories by David Roberts (not as good as this one, but very readable with excellent historical detail – sort of thing that’s great if you have a cold), Patrimony by Jane Thynne oh and of course, the Maisie Dobbs detective novels by Jacqueline Winspear. Oh and another one – the Dandy Gilver novels by Catriona McPherson. She’s Scottish and funnier than Winspear, but not quite so original. Still, all very entertaining.

    • Oo, look at all those delightful books for me to read. My library hasn’t got any other books by Rennie Airth but I will see if I can paperbackswap them, and I can’t wait to get hold of some of the others you recommend!