One Minute Book Review – A Test of Wills by Charles Todd

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This is more like a two and a half minute review.

A Test of Wills is the first in the Ian Rutledge series, written by mother and son team Caroline and Charles Todd. It begins in June 1919 with Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard detective, returned after five years military service in France. Prior to the war, Rutledge was a clever detective with a promising career. Although he returns as a war hero and superficially is functioning, he has not recovered – he is suffering from shell shock. During the bloodbath that was the Somme campaign, he and his men were under direct shelling and Rutledge was buried alive. His superior at Scotland Yard Superintendent Bowles, jealous and threatened by Rutledge’s pre-war and military reputation and suspicious of Rutledge’s stability, has him assigned to a case that guarantees disaster no matter what the outcome. Bowles is determined to see Rutledge fail.

Rutledge is sent to Upper Streatham, a Warwickshire village, where a popular retired military officer has been murdered; unfortunately for Rutledge, the most obvious suspect is a decorated war hero and a friend of the Prince of Wales. Rutledge is not one to accept the simple path and attempts to uncover the truth despite his burdens, the most difficult being the voice in his head of Hamish Macleod, a corporal whose execution Rutledge had ordered.

This is a suspenseful story that twists and turns and although, at times, the writing is slightly awkward, the reader is carried on by the tantalizing mystery and characters that have psychological depth – Rutledge is a character the reader can care about. And there sixteen more books in the series!

A detailed review can be found here.

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2 thoughts on “One Minute Book Review – A Test of Wills by Charles Todd

  1. Thanks for alerting me to this series, Catherine. After publishing the letters written by my great uncles during the Great War, I’ve developed a strong interest in the impact of WW1 on people and families. Combined with a detective theme, this series will surely tick all the boxes for me.

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    • I think the books also accurately depict the social problems that beset Britain following the war too. Todd also has another murder mystery series which involve a British nurse, Bess Crawford, set during the First World War.

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