I’ve been a reader ever since I discovered the library in my hometown when I was ten years old. In addition to Old Mother West Wind Why stories and Marguerite Henry’s great horse books, I became an avid mystery reader, devouring everything from Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys, Nero Wolfe, and Hercule Poirot.
I don’t read many mysteries nowadays, mostly because I think the writing quality in most of them ranges from dreadful to downright boring so when I find a new (to me) author who’s good, I get a tingle in my fingertips.
Like many readers, I pay attention to recommendations, reviews, stories about authors, etc., always trolling for the next good thing to read. The name Charles Todd has come up in my trolling quite often but I didn’t bite until recently.
But now I can say I have a new favorite. Charles Todd is the pseudonym of a mother and son team of writers who live somewhere on the East Coast, and their writing has that chewy quality I always look for in fiction. In other words, it flows along effortlessly and yet makes you stop and think now and then.
I have an Episcopal priest in my Carding novels named Gordon Lloyd. He’s an older man, far more inclined to philosophy than religion these days. He figures he’s got a good deal going with God because neither one bothers the other very often or very much.
I find Reverend Lloyd to be the perfect device to deliver pungent overviews of humanity when needed. I’ve noticed that device in other author’s fiction as well from Father Brown to The Thorn Birds to the Grantchester novels.
Todd has a village priest in Wings of Fire, and given the current political situation here in the U.S., I found this character’s description of evil arresting. Thought I’d share this both for the good writing and the thought behind it.
The Todd books take place in the years immediately after World War I in Great Britain. In this passage, the village priest is referring to a poet named Oivia and a profoundly moving book she published during the war.
“It’s a very interesting study of the face of evil. Olivia understood that, just as well as she understood love and war and the warmth of life. As a priest I found it. . . disturbing. That she should know the dark side of man so much better than I. That she believed God tolerated evil because it has a place in his scheme. That there are some who are not capable of goodness in any sense. The lost, the damned, the sons of Satan, whatever you choose to call them, exist among us, and cannot be saved because they don’t have the capacity for recognizing the purpose of good. As if it had been left out of the clay from which they were formed.”
Just to keep you abreast, I’m hard at work on the next Carding novel called Lights in Water, Dancing. And you can keep abreast of all the doings in my favorite little town in Vermont by subscribing to my website. In return, you’ll have a new Carding Chronicle to read every Thursday.