New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd takes readers on a trip to Ian Rutledge's past, with the story of the last case the Scotland Yard detective tackles before he goes off to fight in World War I. New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd takes readers into Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge's past-to his perplexing final case before the outbreak of World War I.
On a fine summer's day in June, 1914, Ian Rutledge pays little notice to the assassination of an archduke in Sarajevo. An Inspector at Scotland Yard, he is planning to propose to the woman whom he deeply loves, despite intimations from friends and family that she may not be the wisest choice.
To the north on this warm and gentle day, another man in love-a Scottish Highlander-shows his own dear girl the house he will build for her in September.
While back in England, a son awaits the undertaker in the wake of his widowed mother's death. This death will set off a series of murders across England, seemingly unconnected, that Rutledge will race to solve in the weeks before the fateful declaration in August that will forever transform his world. As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, all of Britain wonders and waits. With every moment at stake, Rutledge sets out to right a wrong-an odyssey that will eventually force him to choose between the Yard and his country, between love and duty, and between honor and truth.
Normally, I like to start at the beginning of a series. Notwithstanding that this the 17th (that's seventeenth) Ian Rutledge novel, it can be argued that it is indeed 'the beginning' of the series, as the action predates the other novels by several years.
The feeling of the Britons at the beginning of what was to become WWI reminds me of the scene from GWTW where the Southerners learn that war is to be declared against the northern states. All we're more civilized and will whip those other people in a matter of months or weeks. Didn't work out that way, neither for England in 1914, nor the American South in 1861.
Rutledge is focused on his duties as an Inspector for Scotland Yard. I almost said 'singularly focused', but then he was considering marriage at the beginning of A Fine Summer's Day. Not having the foresight (or is it hindsight in this case) to know what happened in the subsequent adventures, I would have liked to shake him by the shoulders and have him think a little more before he asked Jean for her hand. If that many people he trusted were not in favor of the engagement, I would have said he should have put a little more thought into it.
The villain in the piece reminds me somewhat of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, with a few differences. Henry was not an educated man, nor was he wealthy or for all I know particularly intelligent. But he had the focus and intensity to achieve nearly all of his objectives, staying one step of even Rutledge. That's no dishonor to him, though, because the rest of the local and federal LEO's were more than a few steps behind.
I do have one small question about the introduction of Hamish's character in this book. He definitely figures in the rest of the series, but here it seems he is just dropped in front of us with little explanation and then disappears until the end of the book. (Not that I mind a Scotsman clad in kilt being dropped in front of me, mind you.)
But where do we draw the line between duty and justice? Not an easy question to answer, for us or Rutledge. Certainly the man who kept the silver item, which started the whole nasty sequence of events should not have kept it unless he was willing to pay for it. Just because he was of a higher social class than the craftsman does not excuse being a thief (and I'm using the 'intent to deprive' definition of thievery). But the courts back then would just as soon hang an innocent workman than embarrass the aristocracy. Yes, I'm probably overdoing that one a little bit, but it seems to be the case sometimes.
In the end, justice takes precedence over duty. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
A Fine Summer's Day was a compelling and suspenseful read and a wonderful introduction to Todd's "Rutledge Mysteries". I would think any fan of the series would be thrilled with this prequel addition. If you are a series newbie, like myself, the progressive action in the book is a breathtaking thrill ride.
But now I have a problem. I've been trying to whittle down my TBR (to be read) list and the 17 other installments of the Ian Rutledge Mysteries series just pumped my numbers back up again. After this sample taste, I want to read all of them!
MEET THE AUTHOR(S)
Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.
Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great-uncle who served as a flyer in WWI aroused an early interest in the Great War.
Both Caroline and Charles share a love of animals, and family pets have always been rescues. There was once a lizard named Schnickelfritz. Don’t ask.
Writing together is a challenge, and both enjoy giving the other a hard time. The famous quote is that in revenge, Charles crashes Caroline’s computer, and Caroline crashes his parties. Will they survive to write more novels together? Stay tuned! Their father/husband is holding the bets.
(Disclosure: I received a print copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)