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review 2015-12-17 00:00
The Ian Rutledge Starter: A Test of Wills, A Long Shadow, A False Mirror, and A Pale Horse
The Ian Rutledge Starter: A Test of Wills, A Long Shadow, A False Mirror, and A Pale Horse - Charles Todd $1.99 on Amazon!
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review 2015-12-11 16:51
A Test Of Wills by Charles Todd
A Test Of Wills - Charles Todd

I have read a couple of Charles Todd's Bess Crawford books and I thought it was time to check out the mother and son duos other historical series; the Ian Rutledge series. The Bess Crawford books take place during WW1, but the Ian Rutledge series takes place just after the end of WW1. And, while Bess Crawford is a nurse at the front is Ian Rutledge a policeman at the Scotland Yard. 

Ian Rutledge is back at work after five years at the front. But what not many know is that he is suffering from shell shock and he hears voices. Or rather he hears voices of one particular man that he knew from the war. A man that never got home alive and he feels guilty about it. But he still tries to do a good job, despite the fact that he suffering from shell shock. 

In this, the first book is he sent to deal with the murder of well-liked Colonel Charles Harris who was shot while he was out riding in the morning. He was seen by the house staff arguing with Mark Wilton, the main suspect on the day before. Mark Wilton is also the Colonels wards fiance and Charles and Mark are good friends. There is no evidence that Mark is the killer and the only man that says that he saw the two men together arguing on the day the Colonel died is a man suffering from shell shock. That disturbs Ian Rutledge who starts to suspect that someone at Scotland Yard knows about is affliction and that he was given this case so that he would fail.


This is the kind of book that takes awhile to get into. You don't know that much about Ian Rutledge, but clues about him, about his time in the war and what happen to him, is revealed throughout the book. In the end, I came to like him very much, he is a man that been through hell, that is trying to get back to the life he had before the war, but it's hard. Jean, the woman he loves, broke up with him after he got home. He was not the man she had known before the war and neither was she the girl he knew before the war. And, it doesn't make it better that he is hearing the voice of Hamish in his head.


The case was interesting, albeit the start of the book was a bit slow as much of the time, in the beginning, is spent on getting to know all the involved characters, their relationship with the murdered man. It was in no way boring, but it felt like it took some time to get somewhere with the case. But it's well worth it since it made you really get to know the characters, they feel well developed. Rutledge had to during the days he was on the case painstakingly try to find out the answers from people that not always was that forthcoming with the truth. And, I really liked the last part of the book when it all started to make sense and the truth about the murder was revealed. I was surprised about how it all turned out and never suspected that kind of ending.

It reminds me of the ending of The Great Gatsby when I now think about it.

(spoiler show)


I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series. I like Rutledge, and I hope he will get better and that he someday will find peace. Also, I really hope that he will meet Bess Crawford some day. 

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review 2015-08-11 00:00
A Test Of Wills
A Test Of Wills - Charles Todd This is the first of Todd's Inspector Ian Rutledge stories. I had read one three years ago (GoodReads claims I read two of them, but I appear to have reviewed only one of the two) and liked it enough to consider reading more. I decided I should begin at the beginning.

Ian Rutledge was a police inspector who went off to World War I and came back with some rather severe "shell shock", or as we term it these days, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One of the features of this PTSD is that Rutledge hears voices in his head, notably that of a Scott, named Shamus, whom Rutledge had to have executed for refusing orders on the battle field. It doesn't help that his fiancée dumped him after he returned from the war.

Rutledge thinks that returning to work with Scotland Yard will help his healing process. In theory, the folks at Scotland Yard don't know about his medical issues. But one, his immediate superior does seem to know. Further, said superior doesn't much like Rutledge and would like an excuse to get rid of him. So, Rutledge is sent off to investigate the murder of a war hero, Col. Wood. The most obvious suspect is a local rabble rouser who has had run-ins with the war hero, but Rutledge finds evidence to exonerate him. Then, there's another war hero, Capt. Wilton, who happens to be betrothed, to Col. Wood's niece and ward, Lettice, and who also appears to have been highly decorated by the royal family. So, Rutledge has to sort out all the various relationships in the local village, all the while being abused verbally by the voice of Shamus in his head. Something like that.

It was a pretty good book, and although it was written fairly recently by Americans, most of the background feels reasonably true to post World War I Britain. I'm not sure I liked this book as much as the first one I read (which was the sixth in the series), but I liked it enough I'll likely pick up a few more somewhere along the line.
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text 2015-03-24 21:54
U.S. Kindle Sale: A Test of Wills
A Test Of Wills - Charles Todd

The first volume of Charles Todd's Inspector Rutledge series, A Test of Wills, is currently $1.99 for kindle.  This is a historical mystery series set in the aftermath of World War I.

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text 2014-01-31 19:25
Summing up January 2014
Empress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine the Great - Eva Stachniak
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklin
1913: The Year Before the Storm - Florian Illies,Shaun Whiteside,Jamie Lee Searle
Wings Of Fire - Charles Todd
Cocaine Blues - Kerry Greenwood
A Test Of Wills - Charles Todd
Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!: A World without World War I - Richard Ned Lebow
The Windsor Faction: A Novel - D.J. Taylor

It was a pretty good reading month, all told.  The only book I genuinely disliked was The Windsor Faction; I gave Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives! only  2.5 stars, but at least it was interesting, despite my not agreeing with many of its arguments.


Best book: Wings of Fire, by Charles Todd.  A sequel to a historical mystery I enjoyed, which was even better.
Worst book: The Windsor Faction, by D.J. Taylor.  Literary fiction about a wet mess, sold as an alternative history thriller.

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