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The Confession
Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery, No 14
Charles Todd

William Morrow / HarperCollins
2012 / ISBN-10: 0062015664
Historical Mystery / British Police Procedural / England-1920

Reviewed by LJ Roberts

First Sentence: the body rolled in the current gently, as if still alive.

It is not ever day Inspector Ian Rutledge has a man walk into his office at Scotland Yard and confess to a murder five years previous. The man is reluctant to provide details but Ian does learn he's from a village east of London. Still a murder confession is still a murder and Ian begins unofficially looking into the matter. Things take a turn when the confessor turn up murdered two weeks later. A gold locket leads Rutledge to a village in Essex where it is clear strangers are unwelcome. Far from a straight-forward murder, Ian must go into the past to solve crimes of the present.

Once again I find a book whose beginning contains a completely unnecessary and annoying portent. Even so, I found I was quickly drawn into the puzzle of both a man and a place. Something Todd does very well is provide background on Rutledge for new readers, but in a concise way so as not to bog down those who have been following the series.

I take exception to those who are tired of the Hamish-aspect of Rutledge. On the contrary, I believe it gives verisimilitude to the series and the period in which they are set. Post-traumatic stress was not yet known, yet shell-shock was, and usually treated as something one simply had to "get over." Seeing Rutledge struggle with it while do his job and try to appear "normal," is a fascinating element of Rutledge's character.

Having an author educate me, as well as entertain me, is something I admire. Todd informed me of a period and even the time and events which lead to it. The plot twists are very well executed and keep you off balance. The story within the story is fascinating. The one very slight negative I had was Rutledge's ability to keep going without food, sleep or petrol for his car seemed a bit excessive, but it does speak for his dogged character and determination to find the truth.

The Confession is a very good read and keeps me a fan of this series for, I suspect, a long time to come.

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]
Hunting Shadows, 16 [review 1 ] [review 2]


Reviewed 2012