I began reading this series with the first book years ago, but have missed many recent adventures. Fortunately, the books can be read as standalones. A historical mystery series featuring Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge, the series begins shortly after WWI when Rutledge returns to Scotland Yard.
The Charles Todd books plot excellent mysteries and deal with the aftereffects of the war on society in general and on Rutledge, who suffered from shellshock, in particular.
The voice of the dead corporal Hamish MacLeod, occurs more frequently in the earlier books, but has diminished over the years. Rutledge has become more accustomed to the voice, recognizing Hamish as a part of his own mind.
A Divided Loyalty has Rutledge assigned to a case that a friend and superior officer did not solve: the murder of a young woman whose body was found next to a standing stone at Avebury. Rutledge is aware that Chief Superintendent Markham does not expect him to solve the case and that Markham hopes to use his failure as a means of getting rid of Rutledge.
There is almost nothing to go on, but that does not stop Rutledge from pursuing every avenue he can.
Written by the mother and son team who publish as Charles Todd.
William Morrow Publishers
Historical Mystery. Feb. 4, 2022. Print length: 335 pages
I am not at all sure what I think of this one. The writing is excellent, the premise is intriguing, but even though parts that were quite interesting, I wasn't satisfied.
I glanced at reviews when I finished, and almost everyone else loved it. Several reviewers found it fast-paced, when I found it slow--but I'm definitely in the minority.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Fantasy? Nov. 15, 2022. Print length: 336 pages.
For some reason, I have associated the leper colony at Carville with Walker Percy, but it must of been just a brief mention in one of his novels.
At any rate, Hansen's disease was and is one of the real boogiemen of diseases, largely because it has been misrepresented for centuries. The disfigurement and the stigma associated with leprosy was almost as bad as the disease itself.
In 1894, the first seven patients were taken to what would become the Louisiana Leper Home near Carville in Iberville Parish, Louisiana.
Pam Fessler's research is impeccable and fortunately the history of the colony has been recorded in detail by the doctors, the nursing sisters of the Daughters of Charity, and the patients themselves.
I had no idea that the history of Carville would be so enthralling, and the credit is largely due to Fessler's compassionate writing. The account ended up being as compelling as a novel, something I never expected.
Quickly immersed in the history and in the lives of those who were patients and the lives of those who treated them, I found the book difficult to put down.
Once diagnosed, patients had no choice, if they did not go willingly, then they were forcefully taken to the facility, sometimes in handcuffs. Their names were changed to save their families from the shame and fear of the disease, and they were isolated from the public and even their own families. All ages, genders, races, religions, and cultures created a diversity almost unheard of as patients from all over the country ended up in Carville. Many patients spent almost their entire lives in Carville.
abandoned plantation that was to house
the Daughters of Charity
when they arrived in the 1894
slave cabins to house patients
The situation improved, bit by bit over the decades to follow, and I was completely invested in both the history and the patients. I was horrified at the separation of children from their families and at of some of the early rules to prevent contagion (even though they knew that the disease was not very contagious). I celebrated the triumphs and marveled at the resilience and determination of both caretakers and patients.
This was a remarkable book, and I'm so glad I happened on it. It is not one I will forget--from John Early to Stanley Stein to Betty and Harry Martin, to Jack and Rachael Pendelton, to Simeon Peterson (known as Mr. Pete, who spent 83 of his 89 years in institutions, first in the St. Croix Leprosarium and then in Carville.
(More about Carville) Many of you might mark this one down for November's Nonfiction Month if you don't have time to read it now.