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The Reckoning

3.97 based on 655 ratings & 154 reviews on Goodreads.com

Synopsis

The Second World War has ended, leaving a bruised and fragile peace. But this tranquillity is threatened when a shocking murder takes place in the Sussex countryside. Before long, police experts discover a link to another, earlier, killing hundreds of miles away . . .

While Scotland Yard detective Billy Styles struggles to find a link between these two murders, a strange twist of fate brings former Detective Inspector John Madden into the investigations.

As the victim count rises it becomes clear that to catch this serial killer Madden, Styles and young policewoman Detective-Constable Lily Poole must act quickly. But Madden remains haunted by the mysteries at the heart of the case. Why was his name in a letter the second target had been penning, just before he died? Could the real clue to these perplexing murders lie within the victims' pasts? And within his own?

With this stunning, atmospheric crime novel teeming with twists and moving between the 1940s, the First and Second World Wars, Rennie Airth, the author of River of Darkness, The Blood-Dimmed Tide and The Dead of Winter presents his greatest and most compelling novel yet.

In the media

The Reckoning has been carefully constructed to lull the reader into thinking they're in familiar territory. The well written, short sentences move the story along at a great pace, along with engaging characters, cracking dialogue and vivid descriptions that capture the feel of the time. Real life events from both World Wars are seamlessly woven into the narrative to powerful effect, inviting empathy for characters caught in the crossfire of war. As the thick fog of misdirection lifts the reader is left in no doubt of the real life crime that lies at the heart of this devastating novel. The desire for revenge can blind those who seek it, changing their behaviour until they unwittingly become their own worst nightmare. There are many reckonings within the pages of this novel, but there is one that is yet to come and it is long overdue. Some 'crimes' should be fully forgiven and the slate wiped clean in the light of new understanding . . . I loved it. The ending is incredibly powerful and sad.
Pam Reader blog
Most crime novels offer a curious kind of escape, to places that jag the nerves and worry the mind. Their rides of suspense give a good thrill, but it's rarely a comfortable one. If it's cosy detection we're after, we usually look to the past . . . Rennie Airth, with his series of John Madden mysteries, provides a middle way, and one that in many ways feels altogether nobler . . . In his pursuit of the truth Madden is no charismatic crime-cracker or daring avenger of wrongs. Instead he is a compatriot of such understated sleuths as Susan Hill's artistic Simon Serrailler, or of Adam Dalgliesh, P.D. James's quietly insightful and intensely private gentleman detective. T although convincing, is rarely difficult to penetrate, and the killer's identity never seems designed to shock. Yet all of this matters less than it might, thanks to the potent redrawing of a time that we would do well to remember. The London Airth gives us is mightily damaged, but it still functions, much like the dispirited people who populate it. And that includes Madden and his quarry - the war has not properly ended for either of them, a truth they have each found a way of dealing with, albeit to markedly different ends. The Reckoning may leave nerves unshredded, but there's no cosy resolution. It perturbs far less through a murderer's riddle than through its retelling of a fundamentally broken past. Even as he read Agatha Christie, Dylan Thomas was well aware of 'the darkness in the weather of the eye'. A century on from the outbreak of war, Rennie Airth has provided a timely shake for any comfortably reclining shoulders.
Spectator
Another John Madden mystery (I am a huge fan of these) and yet another atmospheric, beautifully set and terrifically written "old school" mystery from Rennie Airth . . . These novels have such a gentle, beautiful flow to them, putting you right into that time and place without effort, a time when the country was mending itself after a horrific war, rationing was still in place and things were difficult all round. There is a definite Christie style and ambience to these stories which for me makes them all the better, especially as I am a huge fan of those ageless tales. Plot development is always perfectly paced, the characters are all terrifically well drawn. Overall another fantastic read and I really can't wait for the next.
lizlovesbooks blog