Saturday, July 3, 2010

Book Review: A Test of Wills

When I read and reviewed The Red Door, I mentioned that I wanted to go back and start the Inspector Ian Rutledge series at the beginning. And I could barely wait to do it! I was drawn to the way the author, Charles Todd, has written these period mysteries in the style of the best of the real Golden Age authors.

This first installment did not disappoint. We go back to the beginning, back to Inspector Ian Rutledge's first days returned to Scotland Yard after the Great War. A case comes in, a case which no one would want. A great war hero is circumstantially implicated, and the Palace will be looking for a scapegoat. A certain person at the Yard seems to have it in for Rutledge, and sends him off, omitting to acquaint him with some of the pertinent details of the case.

We accompany him, and witness his tenacious determination to solve this case. Rutledge is a tortured soul, suffering from post-traumatic stress. All of the psychological and physical ugliness is laid bare for us through him, as it never was done by any of the contemporary Golden Age authors. Dorothy L. Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey sometimes gave us an inkling, but the overall treatment of the Great War by writers of the post-war period was to avoid any mention of horrors. It was all God, country, and the old regiment, hurrah!

Todd does us a service in reminding us that war is hell, and those coming home from it were in a particular hell of their own.

Memorable Morsels:

There's a bit more for a foodie to sink his teeth into in this installment.
  • Wild strawberry jam (9)
  • Roast mutton (90)
  • Caramel flan (92)
  • Thick beef sandwiches, coffee, sponge cake (222)
Links to Investigate Further:

Buy the book: A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries)
Authors' Page on Wikipedia
Authors' Website
Authors' Page on LibraryThing

Final Analysis:

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