four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
39-Mar-Apr-2009
By: 
Charles Todd
user_rating: 
0

An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery

A-A Matter of JusticeCharles Todd, a mother-son writing team, reprises Ian Rutledge, a shell-shocked World War I veteran-cum-Scotland Yard inspector. A Matter of Justice is the series’ 11th entry. Other titles include A Pale Horse, A Test of Wills, A False Mirror, and A Long Shadow ( 4 of 5 Stars Mar/Apr 2006).

The Story: In Cambury, Somerset, Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge investigates the death of Harold Quarles, a financial advisor with a serious PR problem; when he is murdered, almost no one can be ruled out as the killer. Rutledge’s horrifying experiences in World War I France (the series’ hook finds him constantly battling his own demons as he chases killers) qualify him to solve murders, but the death of Quarles, despite the man’s unsavory side, is an especially shocking one. As Rutledge discovers, the crime was decades in the making and involved Quarles’s time as a soldier in the Boer War. A Matter of Justice is about one man’s murder—and a village’s reluctant march into the future in the aftermath of war.
Morrow. 336 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 0061233595

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"There’s no end to war in Charles Todd’s unnervingly beautiful historical novels, only the enduring legacy of suffering inherited by those who survive and remember. … Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard, a shell-shocked veteran haunted by his battlefield experiences in France, once again serves as witness to the unsettling social changes sweeping across England in the aftermath of World War I." Marilyn Stasio

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4 of 5 Stars
"Everything about this crime series is synthetic, but somehow it all works. … 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." Bob Hoover

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Todd makes effective use of the smallest detail of post-WWI life in Britain, such as how battles ended a flower business but allowed the cottage industry of glove-making to thrive. … Although it is set in the early 20th century, Todd’s novels are timeless." Oline H. Cogdill

Critical Summary

Any good historical novel steeps its reader in the details of a period. But Charles Todd does it with a passion—and through a narrator uniquely qualified to understand human nature—that brings fresh possibilities to the genre. Todd writes with atmospheric charm and a dark psychological edge that makes Rutledge one of crime writing’s most compelling recurring characters. Especially intriguing is Rutledge’s own coming to terms with his guilt over actions committed in World War I. "Finding a way back had somehow seemed to be a final betrayal," he thinks in A Matter of Justice, as he again questions his own survival. The success of the series hinges on both clever plotting and the nuance with which the authors continue to develop their character.