A Matter Of Justice: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery Hardcover – Dec 22 2008
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“There’s no end to war in Charles Todd’s unnervingly beautiful historical novels....Here the mother and son who write under the name Charles Todd get it all right.” (New York Times Book Review)
“What has distinguished the Rutledge series from other historical crime fiction is that it often transcends the whodunit formula with its concerns about the morality of war and the terrible toll it took on the British nation.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“In the stellar 11th Insp. Ian Rutledge mystery, Todd seamlessly combines a fair-play whodunit with a nuanced look into the heart of darkness in the human soul.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“A wonderfully plotted mystery will keep you engrossed and guessing right up to the end....This terrific read will please longtime fans and those new to the series.” (Romantic Times)
“Another triumph...This is a historical mystery that should be used as a guide on how to do it right. Intriguing and complex, this is a superbly rich novel and a real treat for mystery fans.” (Crime Spree magazine)
“Smoothly constructed.” (Booklist)
“With its typically intricate plotting, detailed characterizations, and red herrings, this is a compelling addition to the popular Ian Rutledge series.” (Library Journal)
“The plot is as complicated as any that Agatha Christie contrived, with characters as dark and complex as any of P. D. James’....Just the ticket.” (Wilmington Star News)
“This series makes the anguish of the First World War and its scarred veterans as fresh as our own. Lovers of the British cozy will enjoy the range of settings, from cottage gardens to the remote Scilly Isles to fine country estates.” (Charlotte Observer)
“A sharp look at a country recovering from the devastation of war. Although it is set in the early 20th century, Todd’s novels are timeless.” (South Florida Sun Sentinel)
“Charles Todd hasn’t made a misstep yet in his elegant series featuring Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge, and A Matter of Justice keeps the streak going.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“[A] complex British-style police procedural that explores the intersection of justice and vengeance served up cold. It’s especially recommended for readers who relish P. D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh mysteries.” (Boston Globe)
“Few people writing today are as deft as Todd at creating historical fiction....A Matter of Justice is an intricately plotted mystery dealing with the lingering effects of yet another war.” (Winston-Salem Journal)
“Complicated, thoughtful, atmospheric historical mysteries of small-town England, as richly flavored as Guinness Stout.” (Sullivan County Democrat)
“Literate and wise, A Matter of Justice combines a plot worthy of Christie with characterization reminiscent of [P. D.] James and a profound melancholy that channels [Ruth] Rendell....The discerning reader with find not only intellectual stimulation but also moral enlightenment.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
“A compelling book, as Charles Todd’s books always are. It seizes the reader’s interest at the very first page and keeps it until the end.” (Mystery News)
From the Back Cover
The superb new entry in the historical series the New York Times Book Review hails as "outstanding" and the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls "superb"
At the turn of the century, in a war taking place far from England, two soldiers chance upon an opportunity that will change their lives forever. To take advantage of it, they will be required to do the unthinkable, and then to put the past behind them. But not all memories are so short.
Twenty years later, a successful London busi-nessman is found savagely and bizarrely murdered in a medieval tithe barn on his estate in Somerset. Called upon to investigate, Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge soon discovers that the victim was universally despised. Even the man's wife—who appears to be his wife in name only—and the town's police inspector are suspect. But who, among the many, hated him enough to kill?
Rutledge tenaciously follows a well-concealed trail reaching back to an act so barbarous and with consequences so devastating that even the innocent are enveloped by the murderous tide of events. As he summons all his skills to break through a wall of silence in time to stem this tide, others are eager to twist the truth for their own ends. When justice takes a malevolent turn, can Rutledge's own career survive?See all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I loved the story, though. I was unfamiliar with this series before, but I am going to be seeking out the earlier titles this afternoon. The book reads a bit like a combination of early Agatha Christie both in the storytelling and the emotional restraint of the narrative with the psychological depth of Pat Barker. I loved it!
The main story here evolves around the death of a not very well liked London businessman Harold Quarles. His body is discovered in the most unusual of circumstances in Somerset, where he has a summer estate. Called in is Scotland Yard Investigator Ian Rutledge. He certainly has his hands full for all the townspeople in both Somerset and London are not very fond of Mr. Quarles. Almost everyone is a suspect, openly verbalizing their dislike of the man and gratitude that someone finally did away with him.
The story mainly takes place in 1920 England but does take trips back to some major events in South Africa during the Boer War. There are a lot of characters here and they are all three dimensional and very well developed. They are all very believable. Most believable though is the main character, our Inspector, Ian Rutledge. His character does not merely go through the motions. We understand and are told why he thinks what he does and why he takes the actions he chooses. He is a troubled soul and has some mental problems due to some issues that fill him with great guilt from his own actions in WWI. He feels responsible for the death of a particular soldier and this spector haunts him. This man is very real to Ian Rutledge and he hears him talking to him all the time. Inspector Rutledge is a very complex man who is excellent at his job while being so disturbed that he continuously talks out loud to this dead man whose voice he hears. This makes for a very intriguing main character.
This is the 11th novel in the INSPECTOR RUTLEDGE series and my first time venturing into it. I had some questions about certain background material but I'm sure all these issues would have been addressed had I read the other books. I read it as a stand alone and still found it first rate. I give it 4 stars and not 5 for even though it is so well written and provides great psychological characterization it does remain a whodunit. At times I got a little bored and wished there was a little more suspense, a little more happening, to make the ride a little more pleasurable.
But I do highly recommend this book. If you are a reader of the series I am sure you will be thrilled. And if you are looking to explore a new writer, this one can't be beat.
In this title, Rutledge investigates the murder of Harold Quarles, a London financier, at his country house in Somerset. Quarles has been killed by a blow to the head and, bizarrely, put into a winged wicker harness of an angel costume and hoisted high above the floor of a medieval tithe barn on his grounds. Rutledge finds himself with almost too many suspects because Quarles was widely hated in the Somerset village and at least generally disliked in the City. Even his wife was estranged from him.
Charles Todd (pseuonym for a mother and son writing team) sets the scene with a flashback to the Boer War that lets us know the probable murderer, though not all the particulars of how the murder was committed or the reason for mocking Quarles with the angel device. From then on, Todd gives us a fair play police procedural.
I've read almost all the books in this series and found this latest a bit on the lackluster side. There is little, if any, further development in Rutledge's character. There is less of the Hamish voice in Rutledge's ear in this title, which is a plus for me, since I think the utility of the Hamish voice to the books has run its course. But I wish there were still less of Hamish and that Rutledge would get a real partner to play off in his personal or professional life. After a strong beginning, the plot moved slowly, and the characters were not compelling. Not a bad book, but not one I would ever think to recommend to anyone.
The book begins with a tried and true technique: first we meet Ronald Evering contemplating revenge in the book's "real time" of 1920, and then we flash back to the wartime crime in which two soldiers caused the death of Evering's brother. From there the book returns to 1920 and moves in a linear fashion. Rutledge is pulled in to investigate the death of one of the former soldiers, and there's a twist to the crime that speaks of real passion.
The crime scene is in Cambury, "a village that's outgrown itself." The victim, Quarles, was a London financial advisor with a country home in Cambury where he'd appointed himself squire, indulged in some bad behavior, and lined up an impressive array of enemies. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker (figuratively speaking) and Quarles's estranged wife all had issues with him. Rutledge follows up leads, makes a couple of quick trips back to London to question people, and progresses from theory to theory; there are many potential suspects in Cambury, London, and beyond. It's all well plotted and in the end all the loose ends are tied up in a satisfactory fashion. There may not be many "aha! moments" until the end but then that's probably the case in real police work too.
A MATTER OF JUSTICE could have been a five star read for me if there had been more of the back-story revealed. In particular, I was distracted by young Hamish MacLeod who was killed in the war while under Rutledge's command. He talks to Rutledge like an imaginary friend, and Rutledge talks back to him. This manifestation of Rutledge's shell shock might have been more effective for me if I'd read some of the earlier books; it kept me from getting inside the main character's head, which was already occupied by Hamish.
Overall I found this a satisfactory four-star read and I will definitely explore what the authors have done with this series in the earlier books. Charles Todd is the pen name for a mother-son duo.
This review was written from an uncorrected advance copy, for which I thank the publisher and Amazon Vine.
Linda Bulger, 2008