Bantam, Nov 2001, 24.95, 339 pp.
In September 1919 in Osterly, Herbert Baker is near death from congestive heart failure. Instead of demanding the appearance of his Vicar, Herbert asks for Father James to talk to him in private. The kind Father visits Herbert though they are of different religions. Not long afterward, Herbert dies. Father James never seems quite the same after his deathbed visit. A few weeks later, an assailant attacks Father James killing him with a large crucifix. The culprit arranges the crime scene to look as if Father James interrupted a robbery in progress.
Bishop Cunningham asks Chief Superintendent Bowles to dispatch a Scotland Yard detective to assure church officials that the police are running a proper investigation. Bowles sends Inspector Ian Rutledge, who starting with an interview with Monsignor Holstein begins to have doubts that robbery occurred. Advised and lectured by the deceased Corporal Hamish MacLeod, who occupies part of his mind, Ian begins to unravel a much greater tragedy than even the cold-blooded murder of a priest.
The Rutledge historical mysteries are unique because the reader does not know whether Hamish is a ghost or Ian suffers from battle fatigue syndrome. The story line of WATCHERS OF TIME, like its precursors, bring the post World War I era in England (this time the Norfolk area) to vivid life. This enables the audience to taste a bygone period of their parents and grandparents that is quickly fading into the dust of history books. The who-done-it is cleverly devised as expected by Charles Todd, but as usual the charcaters including Hamish make the novel a sub-genre stand out.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner