Ian Rutledge returns to his career at Scotland Yard after years fighting in the First World War. Unknown to his colleagues he is still suffering from shell shock, and is burdened with the guilt of having had executed a young soldier on the battlefield for refusing to fight. A jealous colleague has learned of his secret and has managed to have Rutledge assigned to a difficult case which could spell disaster for Rutledge whatever the outcome.
A retired officer has been murdered, and Rutledge, fighting the torment of his illness, goes to investigate. As he digs into the lives of the villagers, the witness who disturbs him most is a war-ravaged ex-soldier who chills Rutledge with the realization that he could become like this man.
©1996 Charles Todd (P)1999 W.F. Howes
trying to see the world with my ears
You can count on novels in this series to be solid historical police procedurals without egregious gore, violence, sex or language -- but this one still just misses a four star rating from me. Some of the plot elements didn't flow well, some of the language just a little too modern, and perhaps the novel is longer than it needed to be --but still, this is strong as a first novel in a period series.
Although we learn a little about Hamish in each subsequent novel, it was interesting to meet him (it?) in the first. I am accustomed to the talented Simon Prebble as narrator of later instalments, but I preferred Samuel Gilles as Rutledge (and usually I don't like Gilles).
If you're new to this series, it's worthwhile starting here, and if you're already a fan, meet Hamish again for the first time.
My taste in books seems to run along a space-crime continuum
Inspector Rutledge returns to his position at Scotland Yard after long and horrendous combat service as an officer in World War I. He has been damaged in soul and psyche, and in ways that make him one of the most fascinating detectives in the genre. This first book in the series is truly special, well written, compelling, and different.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend listening to this narration. Even though I've read the book (albeit a number of years ago), I found myself totally confused almost from the beginning as to which character was speaking. We become so used to narrators who handle multiple-character dialog well (even if they don't always sound like we think a beloved character should) that it's a shock to listen to someone with this little skill at voice differentiation. In scenes where Rutledge is conducting interviews, it's almost impossible to follow the flow of questions and answers and the vital information (the plot is fairly complicated) that emerges from these interviews.
There's nothing "wrong" with Giles's voice, he just doesn't use it well. Read the book, skip this audio.
We started listening to the Ian Rutledge series in the middle, so going back to the beginning for context has been helpful. As a rule, I enjoy mysteries with complex plots that may not have tremendous amounts of actions. I do think the latter books are better written but one might expect that as a series develops.
Simon Prebble is a far better narrator, however. Samuel Giles is rather flat and it is difficult to distinguish voices. I am hoping he isn't used for future Rutledge novels.
I too was glad to hear the 1st book. It makes understanding the later one easier. The narrators strong Scottish accent bothered me a bit. Only Hamish is Scottish.
The mystery is very well developed and enjoyable. The story could have been shorter.
I'm not sure how the story is... I suspect a bit dry. The performance was really tough to listen to and prompted me to ask whether I could return/exchange the book after the first 20-30 min. I won't finish it.
I enjoy listening to audiobooks while woking in my shop or around the house -sort of mental multitasking.
This book is boring and repetitive. The main character spends the whole book questioning the same characters with he same questions over and over until it is brought to an unexpected unrealistic end very quickly. It as if the writer kept writing hoping something new would come to him, but it never did. Then suddenly he had reached a page limit and had to put an ending to things. The result was a poor ending. Don't waste money or credits on this.
The narrative starts with a sort of spoiler, which has nothing to add to the plot, but sets one’s thinking down a line that isn’t born out in the text and steals some of the potential for enjoyment; a pointless addition one might say. Miss the first 5 minutes (including the Audible intro) and do yourself a favour. This start brackets the first real line of the drama and so removes the impact of that line; so missing it out isn't a problem. Unfortunately it is also in the Publisher’s Summary.
You can go back to the beginning after the final word, if so inclined.
The text seems an exercise in filling in space between five or six set pieces of action / discovery. To help in this endeavour is a contrivance called “Hamish” which adds nothing to the development of the narrative; although I can see what it was meant to achieve.
I didn’t find anyone to care about in the cast of characters. It may be the extreme nature of the accents of England was a factor - I’m an Australian - although this hasn’t been a problem in other accent rich books.
The reading is probably quite good, if the emphasis on accents being broad were necessary, but the cadence was somewhat tiresome in its uniformity. I found it didn’t promote interest.
I did persevere until the end.
I love mysteries in the style of P.D. James, Rex Stout, Elizabeth Peters, Dave Duncan, etc. I love sci fi written by Issac Asimov (the robot books), Douglas Adams, Jack McDevitt (Alex Benedict series) and Susan Collins. I love fantasy written by Terry Pratchett, and Kim Harrison. I love Kate Morton. I don't like graphic descriptions of violence.
In this first novel of the series, Rutledge is just returning from fighting in the Great War to his job as an inspector for Scotland Yard. This is his first case since his return, and he is left shattered by his war experience. I started this series in the middle because the first books were not available from Audible at that time. I really like the series (and it just keeps getting better). This first book in the series is good, but, beyond that, it answered a couple of question about characters in the series that had disturbed me. I never understood how Rutledge could have sentenced Hamish to death. I also never understood why his Scotland Yard supervisor resents him so much and tries to set him up for failure. Both of those things are mentioned in the later novels but not really explained. These novels have no overly graphic descriptions of torture, rape, violence or sex -- just ordinary characters who behave as you would expect them to under the circumstances and a mystery to be solved, while Rutledge struggles to regain his sanity. It is a series I highly recommend.
I like historical Fiction. This book was good but not great, , i am going to try another in the series before I make my final decision. It is worth a credit and i did not figure out who did it so kept me guessing :)
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