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A Test Of Wills Lp [Large Print] [Paperback]

Charles Todd
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 15 2010 Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries (Book 1)

“Todd has written a first novel that speaks out, urgently and compassionately, for a long-dead generation….A meticulously wrought puzzle.”
—New York Times Book Review

“An intricately plotted mystery. With this remarkable debut, Charles Todd breaks new ground in the historical crime novel.”
—Peter Lovesey, author of The Circle

“You’re going to love Todd.”
—Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly

The first novel to feature war-damaged Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge, A Test of Wills is the book that brought author Charles Todd into the spotlight. This Edgar® and Anthony Award-nominated, New York Times Notable mystery brilliantly evokes post-World War I Great Britain and introduces readers to one of crime fiction’s most compelling series protagonists. Here the shell-shocked Rutledge struggles to retain his fragile grip on sanity while investigating the death of a popular army colonel, murdered, it appears, by a decorated war hero with ties to the Royal Family. A phenomenal writer, a twisting puzzle, a character-rich re-creation of an extraordinary time and place…it all adds up to one exceptional read that will delight fans of Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes, Jacqueline Winspear, Ruth Rendell, and other masters of the British procedural.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Having just returned from France after World War I with a medal of honor and serious shell shock, Inspector Ian Rutledge struggles to settle back into his duties at Scotland Yard. When, despite his tenuous condition, an envious supervisor assigns him to a traumatic case involving the murder of an army colonel and a young captain as the prime suspect, Rutledge must gather all of his strength to not only solve the case, but fight the town people's prejudice against military personnel. To make matters worse, the prime witness is another veteran--on the brink of insanity--scorned by the villagers for what they perceive to have been less than honorable conduct during his tour of duty. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Inspector Ian Rutledge, a British veteran of the Great War secretly still suffering from shell-shock, returns to his Scotland Yard job in hopes of exorcizing his private demons. However, a devious higher-up has learned of his Achilles heel and gets Ian assigned to a potentially explosive and career-damaging case?a murder involving a decorated war hero, a beautiful ward, and a shell-shocked witness. Strong, elegant prose; detailed surroundings; and sound plotting characterize this debut historical?the first in a projected series. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start Here First July 5 2009
By Dave and Joe TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
First book in a first rate series. Todd manages to capture a time with precision, the mysteries are engaging, the investigator(s) likable. Other reviewers will give you an idea of plot. I simply want to add something important to the discussion. This is a series to read from the start. I was lucky to discover the first book first and then have read them as written. While they stand alone as good mysteries, there are characters and incidents from previous books mentioned in subsequent books. It's like the author's nod to those of us who have followed along. Wonderful series, enjoy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Many of us have our own Hamish June 28 2006
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the firs in a series of Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries. It does not take us long to know the man and the burden he carries. It is this side of him and the descriptions of the world after the Great War that adds a unique value to the writing and our lives also.

A week ago headstrong Colonel Harris was unceremoniously dispatched. All signs point to the dispatcher being a war hero with friends in high places. Who ever takes the case needs to be expendable. Rutledge's superior Bowls suspected Rutledge's secret and decided he would make the perfect scapegoat.

It is interesting as the story unfolds we see mysteries within mysteries, maybe a few red herrings and many unwell people that can usually be detected by Rutledge but not always. As there is a race with time Rutledge's trying to regain his uncanny detective skills we also but figure out who did the deed and who. To some the answer will be obvious to others it will feel that he pulled a clue out of the closet at the last moment. In any case you will be intrigued to the conclusion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent mystery Oct. 31 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book because it was listed to be one of the top 100 mysteries of the 20th century. I can often figure out "whodunit" when I read mysteries, and I appreciate a book where I am unable to do so, as happened here. Yet when the truth was revealed, I realized that I had been given all of the clues.
I thought the character of Inspector Ian Rutledge was very well drawn; I was really able to sympathize with his struggle with shell shock, self-doubt and lost love. Although his shell shock contributed a lot to how he dealt with the murder case, it didn't distract from the mystery. His shell shock manifests as the voice of Hamish, a soldier under his command, who Rutledge had shot for desertion on the front in France. Some of Hamish's comments were obscure, but I didn't think he got in the way.
The story held me in a pretty good grip, accelerating to the end. It was hard to put down in the last several chapters. All in all, very well done, and I think deserving of a spot on the top 100 mysteries.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Mystery or Mystery Pastiche Sept. 4 2003
By Sires
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I think some of the confusion about Todd's work is the fact that Todd is not trying to write an imitation of a golden age mystery. He is trying to recreate the period just after the end of World War I when Britain was adjusting to the momentous changes forced on it by the war inasfar as it aids in the story that Todd is telling.
Todd's interest is in the effect of the war on the individual and society as played out in the homicide career of Ian Rutledge. The over-riding story arc involves Rutledge's antagonist at Scotland Yard who is trying to set Rutledge up for a fall. This is not a spoiler because it is revealed very early in the book. This specific story is about the murder of a local landowner who seemed to have no enemies, although he had recently quarreled with his ward's fiance, a war hero high in the esteem of the nation and the Royal Family. This political hot potato is tossed to Rutledge to resolve. Failure could mean the end of his career. Success could mean the end of his career.
For those who think that the sexual frankness of some of the characters in this book is out of period, they need to look at the social history of the time rather than what one thinks the social history is. Remember Lady Chatterley's Lover and the Well of Loneliness were both published in this decade. And even though both of the books were pronounced obscene, they were still gobbled up by the reading public.
Although his prose is at times gothic and overwrought, Todd also floats some very interesting ideas. The series clearly, at this stage at least is worth following.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Read some history, please, Mr Todd May 29 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This first novel's premise is promising - WWI veteran returns to solving crimes, carrying a heavy burden (shellshock) but possibly capable of new insights, too. This character, Ian Rutledge, is relatively well-realized and interesting.
But overall, Todd's attempt at a 'classic' murder mystery is deeply deficient.
First, there's an initially nagging, and eventually laughable, lack of historicity. Todd has no feel whatever for dialog predating the first screenings of The Oprah Winfrey Show. His characters, mainly conservative upper-class Englishmen and women circa 1918, expound upon their intimate emotional lives at great length. They openly analyze their sexual affairs. They explain their actions in terms of feelings, not duty or morality or social decency/respectability. They use a vocabulary straight out of 'I'm okay; you're okay'. In other words, they sound like participants in a middle-class California focus group. I don't know who Todd is, or where he's from, but he's got a lot of reading and research to do before he achieves even half-assed historical plausibility.
Second, although the male characters in A Test of Wills are at least distinguishable, his female leads are utterly interchangeable. Here's all the description you need of all three or four major female characters: "Graceful in her carriage, green eyes flashing and burnished hair lying free on her shoulders, Emma radiated an aura of spirited but playful intelligence." Hey! That's better than anything you'll find in this novel --- maybe I should write these things myself!
Anyway, thirdly, the plot is a matter best left to bulldozers and other heavy earth-moving machinery, because there's no way to ride it lightly. It's slow, pedestrian, and has a stupid (and also pop-psychologized) ending.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars read it again and loved it just as much the second time
Ordered this because I had stupidly given my copy away, read it again and loved it just as much the second time. Dark, but interesting and absorbing.
Published 8 days ago by Oldie Goldie
4.0 out of 5 stars Discovering Ian
This was the first time I have read an Ian Rutledge mystery, and I am hooked! Will continue to follow his career. Read more
Published 10 months ago by jaywalker
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea for a mystery
Inspector Ian Rutledge has returned from four years service in the trenches of World War I, and Scotland Yard has assigned him his first case after his return. Read more
Published on April 29 2003 by David W. Nicholas
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and Evocative
Charles Todd re-creates the era of 1918 England so vividly that I'm walking around in a kind of an historical daze, part of my mind on work and part in an English village 85 years... Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2002 by Robin C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Tests your will (in a good way).
A Test of Wills by Charles Todd is a great concept and first book of a series. The History is first rate, but the mystery plot could have been a bit more exciting (however... Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2002 by Rafik
3.0 out of 5 stars Good twist
An interesting murder mystery with a flawed detective (Inspector Ian Rutledge suffering from shellshock). Read more
Published on June 29 2002 by kymm
5.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative, original, outstanding
Test of Wills is about Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard inspector and a survivor of World War I shell shock. Read more
Published on March 24 2002 by RuthAlice
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
When I read the description of this book I was thoroughly intrigued by the components of this story; particularly the character of Inspector Rutledge being a WWI veteran haunted by... Read more
Published on March 8 2002
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