London, summer 1920. An unidentified body appears to have been run down by a motorcar and Ian Rutledge is leading the investigation to uncover what happened. While the signs point to murder, vital questions remain: Who is the victim? And where, exactly, was he killed?
One small clue leads Rutledge to a firm built by two families, famous for producing and selling the world's best Madeira wine. Lewis French, the current head of the English enterprise, is missing. But is he the dead man? And does either his fiancée or his jilted former lover have anything to do with his disappearance—or possible death? What about his sister? Or the London office clerk? Is Matthew Traynor, French's cousin and partner who heads the Madeira office, somehow involved?
The experienced Rutledge knows that suspicion and circumstantial evidence are not proof of guilt, and he's going to keep digging for answers. But that perseverance will pit him against his supervisor, the new acting chief superintendent. When Rutledge discovers a link to an incident in the French family's past, the superintendent dismisses it, claiming the information isn't vital. He's determined to place the blame on one of French's women despite Rutledge's objections. Alone in a no-man's-land rife with mystery and danger, Rutledge must tread very carefully, for someone has decided that he, too, must die so that cruel justice can take its course.
This latest installment of in the Ian Rutledge series is a decent (if sometimes confusing) addition to the canon. The mystery here is very complicated with a large cast of characters pas and present who can turn into a confusing sea of people- a family tree or some kind of character list like Agatha Christie often featured would certainly help keep it all straight. Despite the overly complex cast of characters/motivation for murder, the book offers some lovely insights into the developing (and maybe healing?) mind of the sadly tortured Ian Rutledge. The glimpses of post-WWI English life always help to strengthen these novels, and have given me a much deeper appreciation for the complexities of that unique time period. For those familiar with Rutledge and his problems, this should be an enjoyable offering, but I would certainly not recommend this book as an introduction to the character or series!