Wednesday, April 26

A Test of Wills by Charles Todd

Review by Andrea Maloney

Colonel Harris is a popular, retired military officer yet someone has murdered him.  The primary suspect is Captain Wilton, a much decorated war hero and friend of the Prince of Wales and also the fiancĂ© to the Colonel's ward.  The local police want nothing to do with such an explosive case so they turn it over to Scotland Yard.  The case is assigned to Inspector Ian Rutledge by a jealous colleague, who has found out the inspector's secret, in hopes that it will ruin his career. For the inspector came back from the Great War in 1919 a changed man.  He is still suffering from shell shock and hears, in his head,  the voice of a young Scots soldier he had to have killed during the war.  Rutledge throws himself into the case in hopes it will help him recover from or at least block out the war. There are many suspects and yet no suspects as he questions the ward of the victim, her fiancĂ© the captain, a local artist, a pair of cousins whose cottage was next to the victim's estate and other witnesses to the events of that day.

A Test of Wills is more than a mystery, in fact the mystery almost takes second place to the story of the effects of the horror of WWI on the people of Warwickshire and Inspector Rutledge. Charles Todd has written a terrific atmospheric psychological mystery novel with an abundance of historical detail and complex characters who seem to come right off the page. Rutledge is a fascinating character and Todd has given us an interesting look into the aftereffects of war. The mystery itself will have you guessing until the end who done it. An impressive debut which will leave you wanting to read the other books in this intriguing series.

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