On the north coast of Cornwall, an apparent act of mercy is repaid by an arrest for murder. Four young women have been accused of the crime. A shocked father calls in a favor at the Home Office. Scotland Yard is asked to review the case. However, Inspector Ian Rutledge is not the first Inspector to reach the village, and he is told the case is all but closed. Even as it takes an unexpected personal turn, Rutledge will require all his skill to deal with the incensed families of the accused, the grieving parents of the victim and local police eager to see these four women sent to the infamous Bodmin Gaol. Then why hasn’t the killing stopped? With no shred of evidence to clear the accused, Rutledge must plunge deep into the darkest secrets of a wild, beautiful and dangerous place if he is to find a killer who may --- or may not --- hold the key to their fate.
On a fine summer’s day in June 1914, Ian Rutledge pays little notice to the assassination of an archduke in Sarajevo. An Inspector at Scotland Yard, he is planning to propose to the woman whom he deeply loves, despite intimations from friends and family that she may not be the wisest choice. Meanwhile, a widow’s death will set off a series of murders across England, seemingly unconnected, that Rutledge will race to solve in the weeks before the fateful declaration in August that will forever transform his world.
An explosion and fire at the Ashton Gunpowder Mill in Kent has killed over a hundred men, and suspicion and rumor raise the specter of murder. While visiting the Ashton family, Bess Crawford finds herself caught up in a venomous show of hostility that doesn’t stop with Philip Ashton’s arrest. The only known witness to the tragedy is now at the Front in France, and he refuses to tell Bess anything that will help the Ashtons. Bess has no choice but to risk her own life to protect this man from a clever killer intent on preventing either of them from ever reaching England.
Home on leave, Bess Crawford is asked to accompany a wounded soldier confined to a wheelchair to Buckingham Palace, where he is to be decorated by the King. The next morning when Bess goes to collect Wilkins, he has vanished. Then comes disturbing word from the Shropshire police, complicating the already-difficult situation: Wilkins has been spotted, and he’s killed a man. If Bess is to save her own reputation, she must find Wilkins and uncover the truth.
A society wedding becomes a crime scene when a man is murdered. After another body is found, the baffled local constabulary turns to Scotland Yard. Though the second crime had a witness, her description of the killer is so strange it’s unbelievable. In going over the details of the case, Inspector Ian Rutledge is reminded of a dark episode he witnessed in the war. To stop a murderer, will the ethical detective choose to follow the letter --- or the spirit --- of the law?
As a young girl, Bess Crawford was living on the Northwest Frontier of India where her father, a colonel in the British army, was stationed. When one of his most trusted officers is accused of murdering his parents, the soldier disappears deep in the Khyber Pass and presumed dead while trying to flee India. Now, 10 years later, Bess is a World War I field nurse and comes across an injured soldier who may be the accused murderer from her father’s ranks.
In the summer of 1920, an unidentified body appears to have been run down by a motorcar. When signs point to murder, one small clue leads Inspector Ian Rutledge to a firm built by two families famous for producing and selling the world's best Madeira wine. Lewis French, the head of the English enterprise, is missing, but is he the dead man? And is Matthew Traynor, French's cousin who heads the Madeira office, somehow involved?
While visiting France in the summer of 1914, Lady Elspeth Douglas is stranded at the port city of Calais with a sea of travelers, soldiers and refugees trying to leave the continent after the Germans invade Belgium at the start of World War I. She begins heroically carrying water to weary soldiers near the front, where she is rescued from a German shelling by Captain Peter Gilchrist. Once she is safely home in England, she cannot forget the gallant captain.
In the spring of 1918, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford discovers the body of an officer --- a family friend --- who has been murdered. Before she can report the terrible news, Bess falls ill, the latest victim of the Spanish flu epidemic. By the time she recovers, the murdered officer has been buried, and the only other person who saw the body has hanged himself. Or did he?
Troubled investigator Ian Rutledge wrestles with a startling and dangerous case that reaches far into the past when a false confession from a man who is not who he claims to be leads to a brutal murder.
Three World War I survivors have been murdered in the quiet English countryside two years after the war. Scotland Yard Inspector Rutledge has been called in --- but with only a few clues to go on and the pressure building, he must gamble everything to find answers.
When World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford takes leave, returning home to England from France, she stumbles upon a stranger needing her help --- a situation that leads her into a murder mystery in which she becomes a major suspect.