When reclusive war poet Olivia Marlowe and her half-brother, Nicholas Cheney, die together in their ancestral home on the Cornish coast, it looks like suicide. The grieving relatives gather together to discuss the fate of Barcombe Hall, when another shocking death occurs. Inspector Rutledge, who is still shell-shocked from his experiences in the Great War, is sent from Scotland Yard to investigate. Rutledge is soon convinced that the answers to this baffling case lie within the family’s secret history.
©1998 Charles Todd (P)1999 W.F. Howes
Todd writes the tale of a detective, back from the First World War and struggling with his own demons. As a "Who Dun It", this book stands on its own. Without throwing out unnecessary Red Herrings, Todd keeps the question of the perpetrator (if there really is one) up in the air until very close to the end.
Even better, he paints a, presumably, accurate picture of rural English life between the wars. I've spent much time studying that period, but only as a historian. I, more or less, understand the economic forces that drove events. The personalities that dominated the country are part of my every day vocabulary. To read about the lives and attitudes of those who lived there and then, how they looked at those returning from the war, how they lived with a changing world and where they would look for leadership.
The people, side situations, and landscapes described are like visiting your great aunt in her small village. You are never touched by the environs, but are content to watch for hours.
If you are looking for excitement, keep looking. But, if you are looking for soporific narration and a straightforward plot that tolerates lengthy naps, you have it.
Somehow I started with just one of the books in the series but soon bought all of them back to back. FYI: This is 2nd in the seriers. 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.)
I like the "hero" of this series, Ian Rutledge. He has been damaged by the "Great War" but hasn't lost the ability to see the good in people around him. The plot seemed to be easy to figure out but Todd was a little sneaky and threw in a twist or two. On the whole the story was very satisfying. The narration was quite good, that helped get past the story being a little longer than it needed to be. I'll be getting more books in this series.
It is a good story with intrigue without crude language. Love a mystery and also enjoy historical novels that give a window in the past and how lives unfolded.
I liked all the scenes that walked through how the murder might have happened---when Rutledge is trying for figure out which child might be a murderer.
The end of course when it is all linked together
In fact, I've pretty much forgotten it now. During the reading I found my mind wandering, and had to go back four or five minutes to try to pick up what I'd missed. I don't think it was my problem: I listen to a LOT of audiobooks, I sometimes drift, but never anything like this. I re-read the publisher's summary and it's completely foreign to me.
This is the seventh Inspector Rutledge book I've listened to, including two narrated by Samuel Gillies. It's been a while since my last Gillies, but I'm thinking it's something about his narration that sets my mind adrift. Listen to the sample: that's exactly the way it's going to be for eleven hours.
The other principal narrator, Simon Prebble, has never disappointed me. So my advice to a newcomer to the Inspector Rutledge series is to start with a Prebble narration - it would be unfortunate to form a bad impression of this wonderful series based on a so-so narration.
Reading the series out of sequence is not a big problem. There is one character (sort of) named Hamish, who lives in Rutledge's mind. His back-story is brought out in every novel in greater or lesser detail. One reviewer says that the whole story is brought out in the first of the series, "A Test of Wills". I'll wait a while before trying that one, since it's also narrated by Samuel Gillies (NOT Samuel Giles - that's clearly a typo on Audible's description).
A great series, good solid police procedural, lots of plot twists to keep you thinking, as long as your mind stays moored.
Yes, I would. I would also recommend that they start at the beginning of the series to fully understand exactly who Rutledge is now and who he was before the war. The first book gives a better understanding of Hamish and why he haunts Ian so.
I absolutely love this series and have read several of the later books already. So now I'm starting back at the beginning to experience the books from the start.
This book is more complex than others in the series, There are around 5 major characters who are discussed at length yet we never meet because they are already dead. The book begins with the supposed suicide of two family members at their home. Soon after the grieving relatives show up to divide the property. Another family member falls down a flight of stairs to his death. Enter Inspector Rutledge.
His investigation turns up the fact that another relative died in childhood from a fall and another disappeared at a young age. At this point I sorta lost the plot. I couldn't keep track who were brothers and sisters, who were cousins, and who was married to whom. I finally had to stop and make a chart.
Once I figured out the family tree, the book was fabulous. The ins and outs of family politics and the looming specter of WWI made for a tight drama. Hamish was at his snarky best in this book and even in the final confrontation with the killer is unwilling to give Ian a bit of peace.In fact, when Ian is close to death, Hamish begins to command Ian to live. Hamish keeps saying he isn't ready for Ian to die.
Which makes one wonder if Ian believes that his living keeps Hamish alive in so way.
This story kept me guessing until the end, even though the pool of suspects was limited. Narrator seemed a bit formal, but that is in keeping with the 1919 setting
Even better the second time around.
In fact I listened to the last three chapters a third time. These books are the only books that I've read or listened to a second time. In my mind there's so much to read. There's not time to reread. I'm the same with movies. I just love these Ian Rutledge books!
I love books about the UK, city or village. This series has the historical dimension as an added attraction. I was never much interested in the WW I era until I started reading the Inspector Rutledge novels. Now it's the period I am most interested in - I now have read up on the history and also read some other fiction set in the times before, during and after WW I.
I like both the narrators that do these stories, but unlike other reviewers I prefer Samuel Gillies - he has a mature quality that appeals to me (he sounds a little older, in other words).
These novels are so complex it's hard to grasp all the details, especially when listening rather than reading printed words. The basic story line is easy enough to follow, however. There are many well developed characters but of course the most interesting is Ian Rutledge, whose personality now includes Hammish, who seems to have a life of his own but is of course an expression of Rutledge's mind.
My first encounter with this series was an audiobook I listened to for free from my public library, Proof of Guilt. I guess because it was written more recently it was the only one they offered. I was thrilled to find the others available from Audible. I believe I have listened to all but the last two now. I think when I finish those I will go back and listen to them all again.
I haven't said anything specific about this particular book - if you like the series you won't be disappointed. If you have not yet discovered the Ian Rutledge novels, I recommend listening or reading them in order. Either way, I highly recommend this book!
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