Mystery authors are materializing out of the Monterey mist here at the Left Coast Crime conference. New authors each had a minute to summarize and promote their stories over breakfast, but my favorite close encounter came last night at the opening reception. As I munched my hummus cucumbers and sipped some California wine, I noticed the solicitations of a younger man to a well-dressed elderly woman seated at my table. I wondered if he was her publisher? her escort? her lover, plying her with food and drink? When introduced, all my assumptions were dismissed: he was her son, and the duo – Charles and Caroline Todd- write the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series, set in Scotland Yard after World War I.
I’ve downloaded “A Test of Wills” -the first Inspector Ian Rutledge book, and hope to start a relationship with a new author(s) and a compelling character. I’m told that as a fan of Downton Abbey, I will immediately connect to Inspector Ian Rutledge—a British World War I veteran who suffers from shell shock as he returns to investigating London crimes.
Now reading the next book in Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope mystery series – His Majesty’s Hope. Maggie has graduated from British spy school and is ready for her first assignment. MacNeal gently reminds readers of Maggie’s former assignments as Churchill’s secretary and Princess Elizabeth’s tutor – as well as her mathematical acumen and traitor mother who is a favorite of Hitler. This story is set in the middle of the war action, with Maggie parachuting into enemy territory as an undercover operative – complete with her cyanide pill hidden in her lipstick case. I had to stop at the horrific point when Nurse Elise discovers that disabled children are being killed by the Nazis. MacNeal gets inside the heads of the Nazis to document their atrocities
The action is exciting when Maggie is undercover in enemy territory but slows down at the end – setting up the scenario for the next book already in the works with the first chapter included as a teaser.
I miss reading about Maggie already; nice to know she’ll be back soon.