June 1920. In a house with a red door lies the body of a woman who has been bludgeoned to death. Rumor has it that two years earlier, she'd painted that door to welcome her husband back from the Front - only he never came home.
Meanwhile, in London, a man suffering from a mysterious illness first goes missing and then just as suddenly reappears. He is unable to explain his recovery.
Inspector Ian Rutledge must solve the cases. Who was the woman who lived and died behind the red door? Who was the man who never came home from the Great War, for the simple reason that he might never have gone? And what have they to do with a man who cannot break the seal of his own guilt without damning those he loves most?
Solve another case with Inspector Ian Rutledge.
©2010 Charles Todd; (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks America
"One of the strongest entries yet in a series that shows no sign of losing steam. Once again Todd perfectly balances incisive portraits of all the characters, not just the complex and original lead." (Publishers Weekly)
Good writing has ... a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it's read aloud. --Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken
This is one of my favorite mystery series. Its protagonist is unique and, in most of the books (this one is an exception), the physical and (especially) the psychological setting of post-WWI England are engrossing. Simon Prebble's narrations are excellent.
That said, this entry is disappointing. After a promising and intriguing start (maybe the first 1/3 of the book), the story loses focus. Inspector Rutledge is constantly crank-starting his motor car as he travels back and forth across southern England multiple times following the threads of three cases. He gets exhausted and so did I. I'm all for unexpected twists in a whodunnit, but in this one the twists tangle into a Gordian knot that is totally frustrating (to say nothing of unbelievable).
If you have never tried this series, you should read the first one ("A Test of Wills") first; a superb book, it lays groundwork for the main character(s) that is essential. After that may be helpful to read the series in sequence, but I haven't and have still enjoyed them. And I'd advise skipping this particular entry.
I am thoroughly enjoying this series of mystery novels by Charles Todd. In "The Red Door," Todd starts off with the door and the owner of that door, but it isn't until far along in the novel that the connection is made between the door and the latter characters and circumstances. An interesting trope, it kept me intrigued because I kept listening, wanting to know how the door and its owner were related (if at all) to the other characters. Even once the connection is made, the reader is kept well in the dark regarding the identity of the murderer. Admittedly, the conclusion of the novel seemed rather convoluted, and I did feel a bit of grudge at Todd for throwing what I think was a red herring in the narrative. Todd is a bit selective in who he chooses to provide narration for: we hear the thoughts of Inspector Rutledge, of course, but also of other characters, which can throw you off. You, the reader, think you're getting more information than Rutledge can possibly get. It's a deceptive, but forgivable, approach. Rutledge's own psychological scars from WWI often threaten to derail his investigations, and they definitely threaten his chances at peace and happiness in his own life. Todd's sympathetic rendition of the "collateral damage" of war borders on the poetic, making such depictions heart-rending. These novels would not be the same without Rutledge's ever-present ghostly companion, Hamish. As adversarial as Hamish can be at times, he also helps Rutledge, working with him to understand and solve the cases. Hamish may not be real, but the reader can't help but believe in his existence in much the same way that Rutledge does.
Simon Prebble has an uncanny ability to provide enough distinctiveness in the characters' voices without resorting to caricatures. If you like puzzling mysteries, ones that make you think more than flinch, then do listen to this installment of the Inspector Rutledge series.
This is one of the better Ian Rutledge mysteries in the series that started in a Test of Wills, with Hamish still ever present. It is a great listen, but one that needs full concentration as the plot is full of shifting complexities.
Having learned that "Charles Todd" is actually a mother-son writing team, I can only surmise that their communication regarding the writing of this book slipped a cog now and then.
I am a big fan of the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, and the novels are usually tightly plotted and have a pleasant rhythm to them, which is carried out superbly by the voice of Simon Prebble. This book, however, could not seem to decide where it was going. Poor Rutledge must have put thousands of kilometers on his car, driving all over Southern England and back to London over and over, as he sought to solve two (three? four? five?) completely unrelated cases. I kept looking at the time remaining on my iPod and wondering when it was going to be finally over.
Diehard fans will, nonetheless, probably want to read this book, if for no other reason than to track the events in Rutledge's life, as there are some notable events in this book. Just don't expect the usual well-written story - it is tolerable, but not up to the usual Charles Todd standard.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
Somehow I started with just one of the books in the series but soon bought all of them back to back. FYI: This is the 12th in the series. Simon Prebble, as always, is a superb narrator - much better than Samuel Gillies, who narrates like he's performing "Hansel and Gretel" to 6 year olds!
No matter how hard you try, you will never guess who will be murdered and by whom. There are so many twists and turns and red herrings that the reader is always kept guessing. The Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is a tortured soul but a great detective. He suffers from World War I "shell shock" which is what we now recognize as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is manifested by a dead "imaginary friend" named Hamish McCloud. This adds an interesting component into how this detective acts and reacts. Hamish is to Rutledge what cocaine is to Sherlock Holmes - a dangerous nemesis that both helps and hampers. All of the books are pretty much the same plot but just different enough in locations, people, class distinctions, and twists to make each worth reading. My suggestion is to go on Google or Wikipedia to learn the order of the series and start with the first one. Each book fills in the gaps if you start somewhere in the middle but the continuity really helps. It would be nice if Audible.com would assign chronological order to books which contain a series or prequels and sequels. )I will post this same comment on all of the Ian Rutledge books that I've read.)
There are two types of mystery writers: the slam-bang starters who twist and turn through a story, and the slow methodical writers who weave a web of relationships and deceptions as they craft a story. Charles Todd is the latter. The Red Door is a wonderful example of his technique, and a great story of family secrets and lies, to boot. The relationship between Inspector Ian Rutledge and Hamish (the man he shot in WWI for failing to follow orders) continues, with Rutledge making room for Hamish (in the back seat of his car, as in other places), so we hear his voice throughout the investigation of murder.
What is compelling to me about this series is that as a reader, I really want Rutledge to let go of Hamish -- to move on to a normal existence after his experiences in WWI. If that were to happen, some of the personal angst Rutledge experiences would resolve, and I know that would make these mysteries less appealing to many readers. But Todd has created a character in Ian Rutledge that we would really like to see heal from his experiences, much as we would like to see all soldiers overcome their battlefield experiences.
It is a long book requiring attention, not one to be listened to in a casual way.
No, Charles Todd is an excellent writer. I have enjoyed all of his book, but I like them on audio with Simon Prebble as the reader.
The inspector of course. He is flawed, loaded with issues like all human beings.
His voice is perfect for the character. I do not think I would enjoy the inspector with any other voice.
No, but it kept my attention and I was up late at night to finish it. It is a page turner.
Please keep this author and reader together and have more available on audible.
If you drift for just a moment, you will totally lose track. There are so many people, relatives, passerbys, officers, etc. The performance was great. I would only select this book if you are going to give your full and undivided attention.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
The performance was really good . . . the story, though, was like chasing a two year old in a candy store . . . not easy and not very rewarding . . . it got good in the end, but trying to tie up all the unraveled yarn by that time was impossible . . .
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