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A Test of Wills
Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery, No. 1

by Charles Todd

     Inspector Ian Rutledge has returned to Scotland Yard after serving in France in World War I. He had an emotional breakdown after being buried alive in the trenches and is suffering from severe shell-shock. He is haunted by serious guilt manifested through Hamish, a soldier whom he was forced to execute for refusing to fight. Hamish's "ghost" is his constant companion, while struggling to settle back into his duties as a police detective.

His envious supervisor assigns him to a case in the village of Upper Streetham in Warwickshire involving the murder of an army colonel, Charles Harris. A young captain, Mark Wilton, is the prime suspect. Wilton is a Victoria Cross-decorated war hero, a friend of the royal family and fiancÚ of the dead man's ward. The prime witness is a veteran who is shell-shocked and scorned by the townspeople for what they consider less than honorable conduct during the war. At the village Rutledge must fight against the townspeople's prejudice against military personnel while trying to find the truth behind the killing.

This is an excellent introduction to Ian Rutledge. Rutledge is presented as a troubled man struggling to regain his sanity after the horrors of war and rebuild his life. It is a complex psychological study with the constant alter ego, Hamish, haunting Rutledge. Todd's description of post World War I England is exceptional. He has empathy for both the victim and the suspect, showing compassion for both. The story is well-crafted and absorbing with excellent prose and well developed characters. Much attention is given to the people and the environment of war-torn England.

Ian Rutledge is a man we will want to see more of in the future.

Reviews of other titles in this series

A Test of Wills, 1   [reviews]
A False Mirror, No 7   [review]
A Long Shadow, 8   [review]
A Pale Horse, 10   [review]
A Matter of Justice, 11  [review 1] [review 2]
The Confession, 14   [review 1] [review 2]

The Book

Harper Collins
Jan 2007 (Reprint)
Historical Mystery - England post WWI
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The Reviewer

Barbara Buhrer
Reviewed 2007
© 2006