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A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – December 26, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

Having just returned from France after World War I with a medal of honor and serious shell shock, Inspector Ian Rutledge struggles to settle back into his duties at Scotland Yard. When, despite his tenuous condition, an envious supervisor assigns him to a traumatic case involving the murder of an army colonel and a young captain as the prime suspect, Rutledge must gather all of his strength to not only solve the case, but fight the town people's prejudice against military personnel. To make matters worse, the prime witness is another veteran--on the brink of insanity--scorned by the villagers for what they perceive to have been less than honorable conduct during his tour of duty. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Inspector Ian Rutledge, a British veteran of the Great War secretly still suffering from shell-shock, returns to his Scotland Yard job in hopes of exorcizing his private demons. However, a devious higher-up has learned of his Achilles heel and gets Ian assigned to a potentially explosive and career-damaging case?a murder involving a decorated war hero, a beautiful ward, and a shell-shocked witness. Strong, elegant prose; detailed surroundings; and sound plotting characterize this debut historical?the first in a projected series. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reissue edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061242845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061242847
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.

Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great-uncle who served as a flyer in WWI aroused an early interest in the Great War.

Charles learned the rich history of Britain, including the legends of King Arthur, William Wallace, and other heroes, as a child. Books on Nelson and by Winston Churchill were always at hand. Their many trips to England gave them the opportunity to spend time in villages and the countryside, where there'a different viewpoint from that of the large cities. Their travels are at the heart of the series they began ten years ago.

Charles's love of history led him to a study of some of the wars that shape it: the American Civil War, WWI and WWII. He enjoys all things nautical, has an international collection of seashells, and has sailed most of his life. Golf is still a hobby that can be both friend and foe. And sports in general are enthusiasms. Charles had a career as a business consultant. This experience gave him an understanding of going to troubled places where no one was glad to see him arrive. This was excellent training for Rutledge's reception as he tries to find a killer in spite of local resistance.

Caroline has always been a great reader and enjoyed reading aloud, especially poetry that told a story. The Highwayman was one of her early favorites. Her wars are WWI, the Boer War, and the English Civil War, with a sneaking appreciation of the Wars of the Roses as well. When she's not writing, she's traveling the world, gardening, or painting in oils. Her background in international affairs backs up her interest in world events, and she's also a sports fan, an enthusiastic follower of her favorite teams in baseball and pro football. She loves the sea, but is a poor sailor. (Charles inherited his iron stomach from his father.) Still, she has never met a beach she didn't like.

Both Caroline and Charles share a love of animals, and family pets have always been rescues. There was once a lizard named Schnickelfritz. Don't ask.

Writing together is a challenge, and both enjoy giving the other a hard time. The famous quote is that in revenge, Charles crashes Caroline's computer, and Caroline crashes his parties. Will they survive to write more novels together? Stay tuned! Their father/husband is holding the bets.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 125 people found the following review helpful By K. L Sadler VINE VOICE on January 2, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the first of Todd's books introducing readers to Rutledge and Hammish. I actually disagree with one of the previous reviewers that Hammish should 'leave'. Having family members who came back from WWI very scarred and subdued (from their letters and diaries), I can imagine that the British soldiers came back in even worse shape, than the Americans. We've only just started delving into the conditions known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Before the Vietnam War, this disorder was not recognized and treated as an illness. WWI veterans were referred to as being shell-shocked, but it wasn't just the noise from the constant bombardment. Most of these men were not even men yet, merely adolescents. They were exposed to trauma that we can only guess at: constant noise, mud, chemical warfare at its nastiest, dealing with daily fear and situations which would leave most of us very damaged. Yet when they came home, they were expected to 'buck up' and get over it, because society didn't understand what they had gone through.
Todd's history is much better then his mystery. I've read another of his further down the line, and enjoyed it very much. This first book tended to bog down, and there was not enough information to even expect the possibility of who the person responsible for the murder was. I was caught by surprise by the last couple of chapters, and it was not logical or sequential.
To be fair, this was a more than adequate first book. I am pleased to find another author who can write well, and since I expect that Todd will probably just get better as he continues writing these books (especially since I really enjoyed the last one I read)...I will continue to look for his material. If the reader enjoys an intelligent mystery, this is a good author to go to.
Karen Sadler
University of Pittsburgh
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By JAD on January 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In the charming village of Upper Streetham, Colonel Harris, a kind and good man and a veteran of both the Boer War and the Great War, is shot dead in so foul a manner that his corpse is horribly deformed. His ward, Lettice Wood, her fiancé the famed flying ace Captain Mark Wilton, and a host of supporting characters all come to the attention of Inspector Rutledge, who has been sent to investigate this politically charged case, by his jealous superior, "Old Bowels" who would like nothing more than to see Rutledge disgraced.

Now if that doesn't make you want to put down the remote and get reading, well how about this...

Rutledge will be helped in his detecting by an unseen but not silent partner, Hamish MacLeod. Hamish is - well, who is he? A ghost from the battlefield? A figment of Rutledge's shell-shocked imagination? A stabilizing presence for the Inspector, who has not yet fully recovered from his ordeal in the war? The first sign of Rutledge's impending descent into madness?

You be the judge.

Poke around Upper Streetham with Rutledge and Hamish. Visit the famous artist who lives in the town, the Sommers sisters, one shy and one outgoing, the flying ace's cousin and perhaps lover the widowed Sally Davenant, the faithful (or his he?) estate manager Laurence Royston. Suspects all. Scotland Yard would like the mystery solved quickly, but Rutledge moves at a pace that will get to the truth, even if it means the embarrassment of Buckingham Palace and the end of his wobbly career.

Will Hamish help or hinder him?

And how will the Inspector deal with the fact that one of the chief suspects is also a veteran of the war, not yet healed?

This is the first in remarkable series of classic whodunits.
Read more ›
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on January 28, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"A Test of Wills" is the debut episode by Charles Todd, set in immediate post-World War I in England. The author draws readily upon that horror--and blight--of the early 20th century, and he does so with his introduction to the reader of Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard, who has been seconded from London to Warwickshire to investigate the death of gentried Colonel Charles Harris, loved, revered, respected by everybody but one! Chief suspect, it seems, is Captain Mark Wilton, betrothed to marry the Colonel's ward, and himself a highly decorated war hero and pilot. Todd's accounting of the horrors, the very carnage of that Great War with its telling descriptions of the trench warfare is graphic and vivid.
Rutledge, himself, shell-shocked and uncertain in his own right, sets out his investigation--keeping an open mind and remembering all the while that closed English villages can be just that--closed to outsiders. He must keep, too, his own recollection of his wartime experiences. Rutledge is aided, believably, by the voice of a soldier Rutledge had ordered killed in the trenches for disobeying an order (certainly an original "Dr. Watson" to his "Sherlock"!).
While capturing much local color, landscape and atmosphere, Todd, however, opts for an easy solution, one which is out of kilter with the remainder of the story and thus closes with an awkward stance. While this is the first of a series--and I am prepared to read the second episode--"A Test of Wills" falls short of mesmerizing detail, of gripping intrigue. (
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