Wednesday, February 22, 2012


In war there is no time for compassion. No time for mercy. To save a thousand lives, one had to be sacrificed. Rutledge gave Hamish an ultimatum. Be ready in an hour’s time for the next attempt to rush the cannon, or be shot for cowardice.

Hardly cowardice. But that was the name the Army gave it when men broke under fire.

Charles Todd. Legacy of the Dead.

A survivor of World War I, Ian Rutledge is a man walking on the edge of insanity, finding both relief and more madness in his work as a Scotland Yard investigator. In Legacy of the Dead, Rutledge must travel to Scotland.

Scotland was the homeland of many of the young soldiers Rutledge led into battle—and, for far too many of them, to their deaths. And of Corporal Hamish MacLeod, whose voice, caustic and accusing, haunts his waking moments and assesses his every action.

The distant war in France reverberates in those who survived to return home to families who also suffer. Their bodies and minds are stretched like snare wires over drum heads. Memories, dreams, words and actions of community around them set the cords buzzing in and out of control.

Our WWI combatants have finally died. We lose a thousand WWII veterans every day. Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq veterans and their families live with the harmonics of danger, death and harm. As much as some of us would like to silence terrorism in the courtroom, the sympathetic vibrations of a plane flying overhead back beats shadowy threats in our subconscious. Warning that another generation will not grow old unbroken under fire.

The question echoes beneath the surface of our lives: where were you on 9/11?

Drummond had “forgotten the man in the chair. Looking up, he realized that Rutledge wasn’t dead, must have spoken. But not to him.

Hardly words, more of a murmur. “The pipes have stopped—"

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