Rennie Airth, born in South Africa but now a resident of Italy, began the Inspector John Madden series in 1999 with River of Darkness. The novel was inspired by his uncle, a soldier in World War I. The crime the Scotland Yard detective takes on is set in rural England in the postwar years. A survivor of the trenches of the war himself, Inspector Madden suffers from what was then called ‘shellshock,’ and this informs the investigation that follows the horrific crime in the small village in Surrey. The mystery is well-written and includes a host of flawed characters who can also rise to a moral challenge when confronted. Airth also introduces Dr. Helen Blackwell, the local GP, who assists Madden with the forensics of the investigation and becomes his romantic companion in the process.
The language Airth uses can be graphic at times and readers my wish to know this in advance. I have read the first five of Airth’s Madden series and enjoyed each one. I am looking forward to reading the sixth installment which will be published next January. It is important to read this series in order as there are significant details which carry forward into the next book. Patten Free Library owns all the available titles with exception of The Reckoning,which is available at other Maine libraries and can be requested through interlibrary loan.
The Inspector John Madden series (click title to request a copy):
The Decent Inn Of Death (to be published January 2020)
Review by Mary Ellen Wilson, Interlibrary Loan Coordinator.