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The Confession: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery [Paperback]

Charles Todd
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 28 2011 Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries

Scotland Yard's best detective, Inspector Ian Rutledge, must solve a dangerous case that reaches far into the past in this superb mystery in the acclaimed series

Declaring he needs to clear his conscience, a dying man walks into Scotland Yard and confesses that he killed his cousin five years earlier during the Great War. When Inspector Ian Rutledge presses for details, the man evades his questions, revealing only that he hails from a village east of London. With little information and no body to open an official inquiry, Rutledge begins to look into the case on his own.

Less than two weeks later, the alleged killer's body is found floating in the Thames, a bullet in the back of his head. Searching for answers, Rutledge discovers that the dead man was not who he claimed to be. What was his real name-and who put a bullet in his head? Were the "confession" and his own death related? Or was there something else in the victim's past that led to his murder?

The inspector's only clue is a gold locket, found around the dead man's neck, that leads back to Essex and an insular village whose occupants will do anything to protect themselves from notoriety. For notoriety brings the curious, and with the curious come change and an unwelcome spotlight on a centuries-old act of evil that even now can damn them all.


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The Confession: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery + Proof Of Guilt: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery + The Red Door: An Inspector Rutledge Mystery
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Review

“There’s both a pattern and a purpose to the superb historical mysteries produced by mother-and-son writing partners known as Charles Todd.” (New York Times Book Review on The Confession)

“Todd’s excellent 14th mystery featuring Insp. Ian Rutledge offers an intriguing setup.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Confession)

“Todd serves up plenty of period detail and plot twists, but the real attraction here is Rutledge, a shrewd, dedicated detective grappling with the demons of his past.” (Booklist on The Confession)

“Todd’s masterful storytelling skills shine.” (Romantic Times on The Confession)

“As with any good mystery, the tension ramps up as the story progresses, pulling more and more characters into the fray, weaving three murders flawlessly into a tight tale. Mr. Todd’s characterization is his strength.” (New York Journal of Books on The Confession)

“Another excellent Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery....You follow a twisting road when you read this book. You won’t soon forget your trip to Furnham and the people who may not be who they seem to be.” (Suspense Magazine on The Confession)

“Todd once and for all establishes the shell-shocked Rutledge as the genre’s most complex and fascinating detective.” (Entertainment Weekly, on A LONELY DEATH (Grade: A-))

“Todd invests this absorbing fiction with creative storytelling (including intriguing subplots), memorable characters and graceful, seemingly effortless prose….This is fiction that moves, entertains, and as always, underscores life’s victories over death.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch on A Lonely Death)

“Another engaging entry in a fine series.” (Booklist on A Lonely Death)

“A strong entry in a strong series.” (Charlotte Observer on A Lonely Death)

“[The authors’] subtle prose and profound empathy for all their characters enhance a suspenseful and twisty plot.” (Publishers Weekly on A Lonely Death)

“Todd’s intriguing revenge tale will keep the reader turning the pages, but the main draw remains Rutledge, the relentless inspector haunted by the voice of a Scotsman he executed on the battlefield for disobeying an order. Highly recommended for all aficionados of British postwar historical mysteries.” (Library Journal on A Lonely Death)

From the Back Cover

Scotland Yard’s best detective, Inspector Ian Rutledge, must solve a dangerous case that reaches far into the past in this superb mystery in the acclaimed series

Declaring he needs to clear his conscience, a dying man walks into Scotland Yard and confesses that he killed his cousin five years earlier during the Great War. When Inspector Ian Rutledge presses for details, the man evades his questions, revealing only that he hails from a village east of London. With little information and no body to open an official inquiry, Rutledge begins to look into the case on his own.

Less than two weeks later, the alleged killer’s body is found floating in the Thames, a bullet in the back of his head. Searching for answers, Rutledge discovers that the dead man was not who he claimed to be. What was his real name—and who put a bullet in his head? Were the “confession” and his own death related? Or was there something else in the victim’s past that led to his murder?

The inspector’s only clue is a gold locket, found around the dead man’s neck, that leads back to Essex and an insular village whose occupants will do anything to protect themselves from notoriety. For notoriety brings the curious, and with the curious come change and an unwelcome spotlight on a centuries-old act of evil that even now can damn them all.


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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read with excellent plot twists May 3 2012
By L. J. Roberts TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
First Sentence: the body rolled in the current gently, as if still alive.

It is not ever day Inspector Ian Rutledge has a man walk into his office at Scotland Yard and confess to a murder five years previous. The man is reluctant to provide details but Ian does learn he's from a village east of London. Still a murder confession is still a murder and Ian begins unofficially looking into the matter. Things take a turn when the confessor turn up murdered two weeks later. A gold locket leads Rutledge to a village in Essex where it is clear strangers are unwelcome. Far from a straight-forward murder, Ian must go into the past to solve crimes of the present.

Once again I find a book whose beginning contains a completely unnecessary and annoying portent. Even so, I found I was quickly drawn into the puzzle of both a man and a place. Something Todd does very well is provide background on Rutledge for new readers, but in a concise way so as not to bog down those who have been following the series.

I take exception to those who are tired of the Hamish-aspect of Rutledge. On the contrary, I believe it gives verisimilitude to the series and the period in which they are set. Post-traumatic stress was not yet known, yet shell-shock was, and usually treated as something one simply had to 'get over.' Seeing Rutledge struggle with it while do his job and try to appear 'normal,' is a fascinating element of Rutledge's character.

Having an author educate me, as well as entertain me, is something I admire. Todd informed me of a period and even the time and events which lead to it. The plot twists are very well executed and keep you off balance. The story within the story is fascinating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars SUSPENSEFUL WITH SURPRISING TWISTS AND TURNS Feb. 2 2012
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
It's always an all-night read when one of my favorite characters returns in a new adventure, and that was the case with The Confession, the 14th in the estimable Ian Rutledge series penned by Charles Todd, an unflagging mother/son team who entertain not only with this series but also with another featuring army nurse Bess Crawford.

With the Rutledge series readers enjoy two affecting characters as the detective is accompanied by the ghostly voice of his friend, Hamish Macleod, who died in the war. Rutledge needs all the help he can get in this complex, ultimately rewarding thriller.

It's not often that a man walks into Scotland Yard to confess to a five year old murder in order to clear his conscience. He gives his name as Wyatt Russell and says he is dying of cancer, which seems believable for he is "a walking skeleton, pale except for his dark hair and his pain-ridden dark eyes." The man he killed was a cousin, Justin Fowler, but Russell offers no explanation for the murder.

Setting out to investigate the story on his own Rutledge drives to the man's home located by a small village, Furnham, in the Essex marshes. His arrival is greeted with hostility by villagers who do not want him there. That is puzzle enough but a short while later when Russell's body washes up from the Thames with a bullet in the back of his head Rutledge realizes there is more to the man's story than he had imagined.

More questions than answers are the result of his probing when Rutledge discovers that the dead man was not who he claimed to be. The only clue is a gold locket carrying a picture of Cynthia Farraday that the man wore around his neck.
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5.0 out of 5 stars tension Jan. 24 2012
Format:Paperback
I have come to really enjoy the Ian Rutledge mysteries, Charles Todd really likes to keep us biting our nails but this particular book is a stand out when it comes to twisted tales. I am reluctant to give any of book away. You have to read every word, no scanning through this book, it is not just a matter of "who is the murderer?" but "who, and why, is the corpse?". This is a lot livelier than most Rutledge books and once started, needs to be kept within reach for those five minutes you might have free. It is a classic English murder mystery novel that needs to be read by everyone that enjoys this particular genre!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  134 reviews
71 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent atmospheric mystery Oct. 25 2011
By Avid reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
After what I consider a lackluster previous outing (A Lonely Death), Inspector Rutledge returns in "The Confession". When a gentleman dying of cancer comes to Scotland Yard and confesses to a murder, he touches off a string of events where little is as it seems on the surface. The village where the supposed murder occurred is unwelcoming, the victim's body has never been found, and when the confessed killer is discovered floating in the Thames, he isn't who he claimed to be-and a full-blown inquiry into his death is initiated.

The plot kept my attention, and the identity of the killer was surprising. The twists and turns taken by the story made sense, as Rutledge attempts to discover the truth about the dead man, the supposed murder victim, and the other characters and how they were linked together. The various threads of the mystery were tied up at the end, but not neatly-because real life is rarely ever tidy. Frances (Rutledge's sister) makes an appearance, but Meredith Channing does not (thank goodness).

"The Confession" is a good book, with a satisfying mystery at its heart, and is, in my opinion, a much better read than the last entry in the series.
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another satisfying entry in the Charles Todd mystery series. Nov. 10 2011
By J. Lesley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
What does a Scotland Yard Inspector do when he is presented with a confession to a murder yet has no other concrete details? Well, if he is Inspector Ian Rutledge he worries over it like a bone until slowly the pieces begin to come together to present a picture of murder. But who was murdered? Who confessed? What happens once the body of the supposed murderer turns up himself a murder victim?

This latest in the Ian Rutledge series of mysteries set in Britain after the close of World War I is slow to start simply because there is nothing for Rutledge to use as evidence to get an investigation going. Evidently Scotland Yard could not launch an investigation simply because someone confessed to a crime. Rutledge, however, is nothing if not determined and he knows there is a crime from the past which needs to be resolved. While doing that, he finds the hand of the murderer extending into the present. This tiny fishing village in Essex had secrets stretching back through the years which the inhabitants willingly kept covered. Now Rutledge finds himself targeted because his investigation might reveal the very past and present the villagers are all in collusion to hide.

As I have found with each Charles Todd mystery I have read, this one is a definite step above most period mysteries written today. The plot for this one continued to change and grow with almost every passing chapter so that I could never get completely comfortable thinking all the links between characters and situations had been totally established. I enjoyed that aspect of the story even though it made for a very evolving story. Don't think you will be able to settle in with this one after reading the first several chapters because it keeps adding information to make significant plot leaps throughout the book. I had to read one chapter twice to make sure I knew exactly who that character was. Part of that is because these authors succumbed to one of my pet peeves and named too many of their principal characters with names beginning with the same letter of the alphabet. Why do authors do that? They have twenty-six letters to chose from and yet two principals here have similar names and it turns out to be extremely important. This story might present some small problems for readers new to the series. There have been two women in Rutledge's life, both are mentioned in the novel, but neither is explained in any detail. Having read all the books I understand the references, new readers will not have a clue! Hamish MacLeod, the voice of a soldier killed in the war who speaks in Rutledge's mind, is not nearly as much of a factor in this novel as in most others. If it sounds like that might add a paranormal element to the story, don't worry, it does not. Rutledge suffered from a severe case of shell-shock and Hamish is the residue of the battle Rutledge fights every moment with his mental disorder. I will say though, to new readers, Hamish and that entire situation can take a while for you to become comfortable with. Readers either accept him as the authors write him or he ruins the series for them.

I have always been more than willing to recommend the Charles Todd novels to other mystery readers. For me this was another very good, satisfying entry in this series.
76 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I appreciate Charles Todd books, but I don't particularly enjoy them Nov. 13 2011
By Maine Colonial - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I won't revisit the plot of this latest entry in the Ian Rutledge series, since plenty of other reviewers have done that. I've read nearly all of the books in this series, and I understand their popularity, but they just don't speak to me. I've wondered why that is and finally came to the conclusion that it's mainly because I prefer books whose characters are more fully fleshed-out and whose lives are developed from book to book.

Charles Todd doesn't tend to devote all that much of the books to Ian Rutledge's own life and there isn't much character progression from book to book. (I know "Charles Todd" is a pseudonym for a mother-and-son writing duo, but I will refer to the author as a man.) On the plus side, that means it's not necessary to read the series in publication order. But for me, it means I have difficulty feeling much of an emotional connection to Rutledge.

The Hamish voice in Rutledge's head is, I suppose, intended in part to illuminate Rutledge's personality for the reader and to serve the sidekick role. But Hamish long ago became tiresome. He's a static character (not surprising, since he's dead) and, for that reason, he doesn't add much to the story for me. I would much prefer to see Rutledge have a real live partner. Having Rutledge pursue his solitary investigations, living inside his own head, just isn't enjoyable.

Other characters in the Ian Rutledge series aren't vividly drawn either. That can be problematic at times. The plotting is complex, slow moving and involves numerous characters. Sometimes, as in this book, Todd gives different characters names with the same initials, and it can be difficult to recall who is who without a sharply-drawn character portrait to help fix the character in mind. Also, without much character delineation to bring motives to life, the revelation of the murderer frequently falls a little flat.

I am well aware that this series is popular, and I don't question that popularity at all. The books are invariably well-written and plotted. Ultimately, then, my view is that the Ian Rutledge series, no matter that it is excellent in its way, is not for every mystery reader and, more specifically, that it's probably not for mystery readers who are most interested in books with vivid and fully-dimensional characters whose personalities and lives are an important part of the story.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy A Meticulous Unraveling of a Convoluted Murder Mystery Suspense Tale! Nov. 12 2011
By Tom McGee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
New York Times Bestselling author, Charles Todd is the pen name for a mother and son writing team from Delaware and North Carolina respectively. The Confession is their fourteenth Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery novel and the fourth that I have read in the series.

Like A Matter of Justice, The Red Door and A Lonely Death, in The Confession, the authors weave an outstanding tale of the adventures of Inspector Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard protagonist whose duty it is to solve murders while dealing with his own haunting by a ghost, Hamish, from his World War I wartime service in France.

The story begins in the Essex Marshes near London in the Summer of 1915 when three men on their way back from a smuggling trip returning home from France pull a floating body with gunshot wounds on the back of its head from the marsh and whose wallet identified him as Justin Fowler of London. They loot the cash from the body and hide their crime by towing the body out to sea in hopes that it will wash ashore to be discovered some other place.

Fast forwarding 10 years later in London, a sickly looking man claiming to be Wyatt Russell from the Essex Marshes and dying of cancer confesses to the 1915 murder of Justin Fowler in France. Ian Rutledge begins an investigation that leads him into the convoluted story dealing with several unsolved murders and missing victims of two generations and an unfriendly uncooperative tightlipped town wary of outsiders.

Throughout the story, little by little Ian's uncovers clues and communications as the pace and suspense keep the reader guessing and builds while putting Ian's life in danger.

The authors provide vivid details of the history and setting of a mysterious town and surroundings while developing the characters and unraveling this riveting tale.

Like the other Ian Rutledge novels I have read, this 344-page mystery is appropriate for middle school through adults as it does not contain profanity, sex, or vivid violence.

I really enjoyed this convoluted yarn unravel as a methodically well-written mystery suspense should and look forward to reading more in this series.

Enjoy!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs more in a lot of areas. Jan. 3 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I love a good mystery and when I first started this, I likened him to a good Wilkie Collins story, however, by the time I was finished, I couldn't wait to put the book down and in some ways forget I ever read it. I know that maybe if I was a fan of the series or had read some of the other books, this may have been different, but what started out as a good potential story, it faltered and failed.

Ian Rutledge is the epitome of a Scotland Yard detective. He's smart, polite, always a gentleman, discrete, a professional, and gets the job done. At the start, I thought this might be like the TV series Jericho with Robert Lindsay, and in some ways it was. Jericho only lasted four episodes and it clearly needed to continue to really delve into who Jericho was and his past, which is something I felt was needed with Rutledge as well. Perhaps with the others in the series, there would have been a slow progression of character development, but I cannot speak to that not having read any others.

Rutledge is also haunted by his fallen friend, Hammish, who I feel is meant to add to the story, but mostly distracted the reader since his Scottish dialect is sometimes not easy to decipher. I'm sure there is probably more background as well on Rutledge in the earlier books, but coming into the series midway, the reader finds themselves encountering a semi-developed character that doesn't really grow or change any through the entire book.

The story has some good elements, a town with many secrets, a family with many skeletons in their closet, and a murder mystery to kick it all off. From the first though this story takes these good elements and drags out the events to the point where you're almost bored to tears. After the mid-point in the story, it seems as though Rutledge spends all his time in the car going from London to the coastal town and back and forth and back and forth.

Until the last few chapters, you know exactly what Rutledge knows allowing you to come to your own conclusion as to what is going on and who the murderer is, that is until he gets really close to figuring it out, then the authors decide that all that openness with the reader needs to stop so they can spend a little more time building up to the big finale which in the end, isn't worth all the build up.

The other major issue with this book is the characters are much to easy to confuse. The names are very similar, and while you never actually meet more than half a dozen of the characters the murder mystery revolves around, that makes it all the harder to keep them straight.

All in all, if you're a fan of the series, you may enjoy this book. If you're not, I would suggest giving another in the series a shot as this one felt very undeveloped and the others may be better. As for me, I doubt I will read another book by Todd.
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