Ian Rutledge returns to his career at Scotland Yard after years fighting in the First World War. Unknown to his colleagues he is still suffering from shell shock, and is burdened with the guilt of having had executed a young soldier on the battlefield for refusing to fight. A jealous colleague has learned of his secret and has managed to have Rutledge assigned to a difficult case which could spell disaster for Rutledge whatever the outcome.
A retired officer has been murdered, and Rutledge, fighting the torment of his illness, goes to investigate. As he digs into the lives of the villagers, the witness who disturbs him most is a war-ravaged ex-soldier who chills Rutledge with the realization that he could become like this man.
©1996 Charles Todd (P)1999 W.F. Howes
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"Difficult to follow the narrator"
Inspector Rutledge returns to his position at Scotland Yard after long and horrendous combat service as an officer in World War I. He has been damaged in soul and psyche, and in ways that make him one of the most fascinating detectives in the genre. This first book in the series is truly special, well written, compelling, and different.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend listening to this narration. Even though I've read the book (albeit a number of years ago), I found myself totally confused almost from the beginning as to which character was speaking. We become so used to narrators who handle multiple-character dialog well (even if they don't always sound like we think a beloved character should) that it's a shock to listen to someone with this little skill at voice differentiation. In scenes where Rutledge is conducting interviews, it's almost impossible to follow the flow of questions and answers and the vital information (the plot is fairly complicated) that emerges from these interviews.
There's nothing "wrong" with Giles's voice, he just doesn't use it well. Read the book, skip this audio.
"Good early work in series"
I believe this might have been the first of the Ian Rutledge series--which has gone on to become most excellent in every respect!
In this book, Rutledge comes back after the Great War and takes back the place he gave up at Scotland Yard to enter the military. He has come back with shell shock (something he does not want his fellow detectives to know, which largely manifests as his hearing the voice of a dead comrade.) He has also faced the devastation of having his fiance break off their engagement because she cannot now bear to be married to him, suffering as he is. Getting back to work is a big challenge for him, so he desperately hopes to succeed.
However, his superior dislikes him, and sends him to handle a murder that could end his career--before it even gets going again, due to the extreme sensitivity of people involved. When Rutledge gets to the town where the murder has occurred, he has to face people who have also been involved in the war, and try to decide whether a highly respected war hero has committed a murder. This will bring up a lot of personal pain and memories for Rutledge, that he has to manage, even while handling a complicated case.
Having read all the books in the series, I can see a few things in this early work that seem to have changed in later ones, such as occasionally shifting to separate thought processes or dialogues between other characters--showing their point of view in that way. In later works it seems that CT gets away from that style, going more to the reader gaining the perspective of other characters through inference from events--much as Rutledge himself has to do (which I personally prefer).
All of this series is among the best out there (in my opinion). I have read all of them (including the Bess Crawford series which Todd has also written. ) The narrator is quite good--with only the comment that it is hard to tell the difference between speakers--but that largely was no problem at all. HIGHLY RECOMMEND anything by Charles Todd. This early book is not quite up to their style and skill that will soon emerge--but well worth reading.
"Samuel Giles is not Simon Prebble"
We started listening to the Ian Rutledge series in the middle, so going back to the beginning for context has been helpful. As a rule, I enjoy mysteries with complex plots that may not have tremendous amounts of actions. I do think the latter books are better written but one might expect that as a series develops.
Simon Prebble is a far better narrator, however. Samuel Giles is rather flat and it is difficult to distinguish voices. I am hoping he isn't used for future Rutledge novels.
"Charles Todd at his best!"
A Teat of Wills is Ian Rutledge Book 1. I've just written a 3 star review for Book 10 in the series. Charles Todd is an outstanding author of police thrillers and teamed with narrator Simon Prebble his novels are usually outstanding.
This book is really special. Rutledge has just returned from fighting in WWI where he had to execute a man for refusing to fight. He is assigned a case that is likely to turn out bad for him.
I listened to this book 2 years ago.
"Good to meet Hamish at the beginning"
You can count on novels in this series to be solid historical police procedurals without egregious gore, violence, sex or language -- but this one still just misses a four star rating from me. Some of the plot elements didn't flow well, some of the language just a little too modern, and perhaps the novel is longer than it needed to be --but still, this is strong as a first novel in a period series.
Although we learn a little about Hamish in each subsequent novel, it was interesting to meet him (it?) in the first. I am accustomed to the talented Simon Prebble as narrator of later instalments, but I preferred Samuel Gilles as Rutledge (and usually I don't like Gilles).
If you're new to this series, it's worthwhile starting here, and if you're already a fan, meet Hamish again for the first time.
"First of the series"
In this first novel of the series, Rutledge is just returning from fighting in the Great War to his job as an inspector for Scotland Yard. This is his first case since his return, and he is left shattered by his war experience. I started this series in the middle because the first books were not available from Audible at that time. I really like the series (and it just keeps getting better). This first book in the series is good, but, beyond that, it answered a couple of question about characters in the series that had disturbed me. I never understood how Rutledge could have sentenced Hamish to death. I also never understood why his Scotland Yard supervisor resents him so much and tries to set him up for failure. Both of those things are mentioned in the later novels but not really explained. These novels have no overly graphic descriptions of torture, rape, violence or sex -- just ordinary characters who behave as you would expect them to under the circumstances and a mystery to be solved, while Rutledge struggles to regain his sanity. It is a series I highly recommend.
"Good story, reader detracted"
Perhaps the narrator just talks like that himself and can't help it. His diction is faultless and every word was clear, but their was no expression, which was very distracting. I thought perhaps he was purposely trying to portray an upper class Englishman and overdid it. But I have listened to many English narrators that I enjoyed.
I have read or listened to this entire series and after finishing the last book, which was a prequel set before the war, I decided to experience the entire series again. It has been a long time since I began reading Ian Rutledge mysteries; it was before I became an audiobook fan. So I had read the print edition of this, but couldn't remember the plot completely. If the narrator is the same on subsequent books, I will go to print editions for them.
"Glad these early ones were added to Audible"
I too was glad to hear the 1st book. It makes understanding the later one easier. The narrators strong Scottish accent bothered me a bit. Only Hamish is Scottish.
The mystery is very well developed and enjoyable. The story could have been shorter.
Good story, kept my interest. Totally unexpected ending, I never would guessed. No obvious clues, either, that it would end this way.
Wonderful all around! Enjoyed it from beginning to end. Will listen to the others in the series.
"Excellent first in series."
I really enjoyed this story. The mystery unfolds slowly. The plot twists are developed in a believable way. The ending seemed a little abrupt, but this is a good start to a great series. The main character, Ian Rutledge, is an appealing, believable character, with an interesting back story. I look forward to more books in this series.
"Didn't get to the end of this one."
I wouldn't recommend this book as I got bored with it.
I like the period ,1st world war,characters weren't interesting to me
Probably not but that might depend on the subject matter.
I enjoy the Rutledge stories and have heard many of them, but I am not keen of the narrator of the early books. He does not seems to have understood the importance of an RP (received pronunciation) accent which was so important until the 1960s in Britain. How could Rutledge have even the slightest provincial twang? I am sure his sister would not have one - they move in the wrong social environment for that (see "A Fine Summer's Day). If he sounded provincial as this narrator suggests then he puts Rutledge lower down social ladder than I have placed him in a very class-conscious Britain. It is also one of the things Bowles, his superior, dislikes about Rutledge.
The other thing that annoy me is the use of US words like "drapes" and "gotten". UK English may now be scattered with US English terms and pronunciation, but either "Charles Todd" is catering for an American-speaking audience of they are from the other side of the pond! It is annoying to think that "curtains" are not acceptable or valid English for a story firmly set in early 20th Century Britain.
This story is the first case for Rutledge post war when he, and the rest of the country, have to cope with their losses and nightmares or ghosts.
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