Fine Summer's Day by Charles Todd is being billed as a
prequel to the Ian Rutledge series. But it is much more than
that, as the authors put the readers right in the middle of
the hysteria about going to war at the beginning of the 20th
Century. Intermingled with World War I facts is the backstory
of Ian Rutledge, examining who he was before the war.
The story's timing occurs just before World War I begins,
in June 1914. While most are focused on the assassination
of the Archduke in Sarajevo, Rutledge is concentrating on
a case involving a series of murders across England, which
are seemingly unconnected. He is also pre-occupied with his
engagement to Jean Gordon, someone whom he dearly loves despite
the reservations of his friends and family.
Readers get a clearer picture of Jean's personality before
the war began. She is seen as superficial, which creates an
understanding of why she slighted him after he came back from
the war with shell shock. The authors show her as having a
personality without a lot of depth and spoiled by her parents.
She measured herself with regard to her friends, always wanting
to keep up appearances. Jean is almost the direct opposite
of her friend Kate who is also beautiful and charming, but
who is someone readers can like.
Through the character's eyes the authors show how people at
that time were swept up in the glory of war. The Todds noted,
"We put this quote in the book by Ian who is the voice
of reality, 'And now everyone was mad for war. As if the excitement
was all they saw
It's not all parades and bands and
uniforms, its cruelty and misery and destruction.' He was
not swept up in that mad rush. He had no illusions since as
a policeman he had seen dead bodies. At first he saw himself
not as a soldier but as a policeman who had a duty to solve
this case. While working on the case he placed his obligation
as a policeman before his duty of King and Country. After
solving the case he enlisted because he felt he was needed.
Britain was pressed for men considering the massive German
army, and needed good officers who could command men."
A Fine Summer's Day is a gripping novel that captures
people's thoughts and experiences regarding the pre-World
War I years. The authors are able to skillfully intermingle
this within a riveting murder mystery. This book is a page-turner
that readers will not want to put down.