Review of Test of Wills by Charles Todd
Overview from www.bn.com: Don’t miss the first book in the critically acclaimed Inspector Ian Rutledge series
It’s 1919, and the “War to End All Wars” has been won. But there is no peace for Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge, recently returned from the battlefields of France shell-shocked and tormented by the ever-present voice of the young Scot he had executed for refusing an order. Escaping into his work to save his sanity, Rutledge investigates the murder of a popular colonel in Warwickshire and his alleged killer, a decorated war hero and close friend of the Prince of Wales.
The case is a political minefield, and its resolution could mean the end of Rutledge’s career. Win or lose, the cost may be more than the damaged investigator can bear. For the one witness who can break the case open is, like Rutledge, a war-ravaged victim . . . and his grim, shattered fate could well prove to be the haunted investigator’s own.
I now remember looking forward to reading this book after downloading it one day for Free Friday. Somewhere along the line however I must have forgotten it. When I found it again in my library after I’d finished reading my last book, I was real excited and couldn’t wait to get started. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.
This one combines two of my favorite genres: Historical Fiction and Mystery. The time is 1919. World War I or the Great War has just ended and the former combatants are returning home. Among them is our dear Inspector Ian Rutledge.
Rutledge is home and safe for now. Or is he? He may be safe from the bombs, the diseases and the trenches but he is not safe from the voice that is in his head. The doctors are aware of it yet they have pronounced him fit for duty, but is he?
So far he has done fine reading the paper and lamenting the state of post war England but along comes a real case in a town near Warwickshire and he begins to wonder what he’s got himself in for. A war hero has died and the prime suspect is another war hero who is in tight with the royal family. Ian must either find another suspect, or find some airtight evidence that he can use to justify an arrest of Captain Mark Wilton.
The trouble is that Rutledge can’t get to the heart of the matter and the voice in his head is not the biggest distraction. It seems that our victim Colonel Harris had no enemies. He is practically a model citizen who no one would want to murder….and yet someone did.
In fact, the victim was not only murdered but in a somewhat gruesome way as his head was shot clean off by a shotgun. Someone clearly had issues with the Colonel thought no one wants to admit it.
All evidence seems to point to Wilton who persistently professes his innocence yet admits that he will not tell the inspector everything he wants to know. Some issues are personal, he says, and he will not budge even when the cards are stacked against.
Ian is all set to arrest him when something gnaws at him. He knows that something is not right. By the time he realizes what it is though, he is almost too late to prevent another murder.
Okay, here’s the skinny on this one. I liked it a lot. I would say I loved it if it weren’t for the fact that the ending seemed to come out of nowhere. I prefer a story where all the facts are there but you could still miss the conclusion if you look at them from the wrong perspective.
I like the characters of Ian Rutledge and Hamish who is the voice in his head. I like seeing the World War I Era perspective on mental issues and how it compares with today. What is PTSD today was called “shell shock” back then and apparently could also include hearing voices in your head (which I thought was schizophrenia).
I also find it interesting that as hard as it sometimes is to deal with Hamish, Rutledge prefers dealing with him than with some of his other demons. His old flame Jean is one of them. He’d prefer listening to Hamish than thinking about Jean any day of the week though Hamish often belittles him.
This is the beginning of a series so I am anxious to read the next one. Who knows when or if my budget will allow that though? Someone let me know if the next one goes on sale at www.bn.com or maybe I’ll try the library. In the meantime, check it out and let me know if you agree.
Contains: some violence