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Posts Tagged ‘retired Scotland Yard inspector’

THE RECKONING by Rennie Airth: Book Review

I’m delighted to let you know that there’s a fourth John Madden mystery that has just been published.  Originally billed as a trilogy extending from World War I to World War II, Rennie Airth’s new novel takes place two years after World War II ends.

What becomes a series of seemingly unrelated murders begins, for John, with the death of Oswald Gibson, a meek and unassuming man who is shot while fishing near his home.  Oswald is a man who has spent his life trying not to upset or confront people, according to all those who knew him, including his brother.  He took “turn the other cheek” to the extreme, so why would someone kill him?

The second inexplicable thing about the death is the unfinished letter found in his desk.  It was written to the commissioner of Scotland Yard, saying that Oswald was trying to get in touch with someone who had worked at the Yard a long time ago, someone named John Madden.  Why did Oswald start writing the letter, only to leave it unfinished and unsent?

As John recounts the story of Oswald’s murder to his wife Helen, she says, “It’s obvious there’s been a mistake.  I don’t believe you two ever met.”  John agrees, but he responds, “But if I can’t remember his name, how is it that he knows mine?”

John Madden is certain he never heard of or met Oswald.  Nor did he know the man who turned out to have been the first victim, a Scottish doctor shot in his office several weeks before Oswald’s death.

When we first met John Madden in River of Darkness, it was just after the end of the Great War, in which he had served.  He suffered both physically and emotionally during the war, the latter because of the deaths of his wife and child.  But it is also in that novel that he meets and falls in love with Dr. Helen Blackwell, and together they begin a new chapter in their lives.

There is no war that does not leave its scars on both soldiers and civilians.  What John and the detectives at Scotland Yard are finding is that those scars can be so deep that the passing of years, even decades, doesn’t heal them.  And that’s when murder steps in.

Rennie Airth has created a wonderful protagonist in John Madden, a man of integrity and courage.  His ability is legendary at the Yard and has not diminished with his retirement, and it is with a sense of relief that his former colleagues welcome him into the investigation of these two murders.  John now has reached middle age, but his skills are still as apparent as they were when we first met him nearly three decades earlier.

You can read more about Rennie Airth at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.