A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #1)

A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #1)

by Charles Todd

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“Todd has written a first novel that speaks out, urgently and compassionately, for a long-dead generation….A meticulously wrought puzzle.”
—New York Times Book Review

“An intricately plotted mystery. With this remarkable debut, Charles Todd breaks new ground in the historical crime novel.”
—Peter Lovesey, author of The Circle

“You’re going to love Todd.”
—Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly

The first novel to feature war-damaged Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge, A Test of Wills is the book that brought author Charles Todd into the spotlight. This Edgar® and Anthony Award-nominated, New York Times Notable mystery brilliantly evokes post-World War I Great Britain and introduces readers to one of crime fiction’s most compelling series protagonists. Here the shell-shocked Rutledge struggles to retain his fragile grip on sanity while investigating the death of a popular army colonel, murdered, it appears, by a decorated war hero with ties to the Royal Family. A phenomenal writer, a twisting puzzle, a character-rich re-creation of an extraordinary time and place…it all adds up to one exceptional read that will delight fans of Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes, Jacqueline Winspear, Ruth Rendell, and other masters of the British procedural.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061946271
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/23/2010
Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge Series , #1
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 427
Sales rank: 241,500
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother-and-son writing team, they live on the East Coast.

What People are Saying About This

Stephen King

“You’re going to love Todd.”

Customer Reviews

A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 142 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We love all Charles Todd's books. They are poignent and heartfelt mysteries with just the right combination of atmosphere and character studies. I read them very slowly and am always sorry to put them down. I've read everything from Christie to Barr to George and nothing satisfies like a Todd.
nprfan1 More than 1 year ago
As a study of the psychology of a man who returns from the horrors of war, this is an excellent read. Ian Rutledge was a police inspector for Scotland Yard before World War I who during the war was forced to execute a man for cowardice (in the legal sense), and that man has now taken up residence in his subconscious. It's a situation that he must learn to live with, at least for the time being, and one that may damage if not destroy the career he returns to after the war. As a mystery, however, I agree with several reviewers here that Todd needs to hone his craft - although I understand that he's done so as additional books in the series have been published. The investigation itself is excellent; a typical British mystery probing the lives of all the suspects in a little country village, as well as those of other residents of the town. But the resolution, when it comes, is straight out of left field. There is mention of the motive and reason for the murder earlier on in the book, but just one mention of less than a page - and then you forget about it until the denouement several dozen pages later. I agree with one of the characters in the book. Rutledge needs a sergeant or someone to work with in the series. That someone could be aware of his psychological condition, whether Rutledge tells him or he finds out on his own. He (or she) should be sympathetic to his plight and keep it a secret from the rest of the Yard, particularly from his superior Bowles, who I found to be thoroughly unlikeable, although a bit two-dimensional. The conflict between Rutledge & Bowles should hopefully be fleshed out as the series continues. Todd's writing and style are first-rate, though, especially for an American writing a British mystery, and I definitely want to continue with this series.
Liesl Istre More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth George and was looking for a similar writer.......I just found him, Charles Todd. I love Scotland Yard and the characters that make up the Yard in both George and Todd's stories. I'm already into book 2 of the Ian Rutledge series and looking forward to reading all while I wait on a new novel by George.
Leeds-Loiner More than 1 year ago
It is an English novel written by an American using American grammar and Spelling I.E sidewalks not footpaths,Cookies not biscuits etc.It is wrriten for American readership,but I enjoyed it very much.Iwill check out the next in the series.There were lots of young men came from the great war psychologically scarred nd it will be interesting to see how Rutledge deals with his condition
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book and this Character. Even though he is a victim of shell shock. I like his sense of duty to perform his job even though he is haunted by his war experiences.
DetectiveH More than 1 year ago
As a lover of British Detective novels, this one packs a bang. We meet Inspector Ian Rutledge, a World War I veteran suffering from shell-shock, as he returns to Scotland Yard. The plot involving a double suicide and Rutledge's refusal to fail make this one heck of a read. I highly recommend it to anyone who follows DCI Alan Banks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WWI was a gastly war. It took a lot more from the remaining living than from those that died. Very interesting book.
Onthefly More than 1 year ago
Takes place post WWI in U.K. Interesting insight into life back then if accurate. A little slow going. No excitement at all. Almost no humor. I did buy book 2 and 3 in the series to follow up on Inspector Rutledge. We'll see.
Debi Brinson More than 1 year ago
Well writen
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the psychology of it all
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Recommended for the intelligent and discerning reader - a winner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please stop spamming this review board with these idiotic RP ideas. You want to play RP? Go to ANY other place than this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
lotto53 More than 1 year ago
I love this series. Wonderful characters and terrific plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved everything about it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and entertaining. A good diversion
hj_hewett More than 1 year ago
Ian Rutledge returns from WWI a shattered man, attempting to carry on, haunted by the voice of a man whose execution he ordered. But the idyllic English countryside still harbors death, and Rutledge pursues the case, uncovering relationships and secret tragedies that go back to the war and before in this English village. I enjoyed this period mystery very much, which is more grave than a “cozy,” but not as grim as Rennie Airth. There are several nice twists along the way that I didn’t see coming, and I loved the attention to setting, particularly the description of the country and the gardens. A TEST OF WILLS is the first book in the Ian Rutledge series. “Charles Todd,” the mother-son writing team, also have a separate Bess Crawford mystery series which follows a WWI nurse that I’m looking forward to reading.
sjmccreary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. Inspector Rutledge has just returned to his position with Scotland Yard after serving several years in the army during WWI. He has recently been released from psychiatric care as being fit to return to work, following his suffering from "shell shock" (I guess now we'd call it PTSD), and is eager to keep the voice in his head a secret from both his doctors and his superiors. His first case assignment was (suspiciously) eagerly given by his supervisor, and concerned the Warwickshire murder of a retired colonel from the Great War, whose ward is engaged to be married to a captain, an air corps war hero and personal acquaintance of the royal family. The captain, unfortunately, is a prime suspect in the crime. There is a perfect scapgoat in the village, but Rutledge doesn't want to accuse an innocent man just to avoid the political sensitivity of charging such a popular and well-connected man. On the other hand, he doesn't want to charge the captain without being able to prove his guilt beyond doubt. The investigation proceeds slowly as the villagers seem unable - or unwilling - to provide him with any useful evidence.Normally when I pick up a new book, I am able to read it straight through in only a few days. This time, real life intruded and it took more than 2 weeks to finish the book. It speaks well of the writing that I didn't lose interest in the days I wasn't able to read, and that it was clear enough that I only had to backtrack a few sentences to regain my bearings when returning to the book. I enjoyed the mystery that Rutledge was trying to solve, and I enjoyed becoming better acquainted with Rutledge himself. His experiences in the war obviously had a tremendous impact on him, and, in fact, nearly every character in the book had a story to tell about their experience during the war and its effect. Enough of Rutledge's story was revealed that his actions made sense, but there was enough held back that I am anxious for the next book to learn more.
ckNikka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿A test of Wills¿ the first book in an interesting series. I read it some time ago (ten years) and the book has an interesting premise that relates to today¿ PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ¿ we have so many returning Veterans that have suffered from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is good to remember World War I where our Hero has returned from France and with a Medal of Honor and overwhelming PTSD. Our main Character - Inspector Ian Rutledge struggles to settle back into life¿The guilt he feels as a survivor and someone who had to take responsibility to ordering people to there death both in the horrible trenches and executions for supposed cowardice. In typical British fashion people were not supposed to talk being ¿shell Shocked¿¿anymore than someone today would admit to Post Traumatic Stress¿ the Author creates a character within the characters mind and gives an accurate picture of civilians and what they are thinking and how unfeeling and unsupportive they can be to veterans. He is given an impossible case to solve filled with politics and people who want him to fail or succeed in a politically safe way. There is a clouding of good and evil that war and general living brings. It is a good series but it does need some thinking and some concentration and I enjoyed rereading it and look forward to rereading the rest of the series.
enemyanniemae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This mystery, set in post-WWI England, is not something I would have chosen for myself. However, since I am determined to find new authors (well, new to me anyway) for my little mystery group, I decided on Charles Todd. What a fine choice I made.Ian Rutledge is recently returned to his Scotland Yard position. It appears that he had a bit of a breakdown after coming back from service in the trenches during World War I. He also brought back a ghost, one that refuses to let him be. Rutledge is sent north to investigate the murder of a decorated officer. The one witness is a man like himself, shellshocked and daily reliving the terrors of the war. Rutledge is doomed to failure and the experience could well be the final straw that snaps his tenuous hold on his own sanity.Well written and with excellent character development, this is a series of merit. I would have given 4 stars had the final revelation been anywhere near as interesting or as believable as the twists and turns of the plot on the way to its conclusion. A good read none the less.
navelos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I would have rated this book higher except that I was unsatisfied by the end.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been doing a lot of reading about WW I. Reading about war can become an overwhelming downer, and these mysteries are giving me the chance to immerse myself into the times, use my brain to try to figure out "who dunnit" with the protagonists, and enjoy a relaxing reading experience at the same time.Home from service in "The Great War", suffering shell-shock (what we now recognize as PTSD) and bringing with him an alter-ego (or is it the ghost?) of Hamish McLeod, a Scottish soldier whose death allowed Rutledge to survive, he finds his  fiancèe has backed out of their relationship, he has lost confidence in his ability to continue what had obviously been a promising career with Scotland Yard (and they also seem to want to find a way to put him permanently out to pasture) and he now finds himself sent to investigate what appears to be a local murder in a small village that normally the Yard would not have been involved in.  So why has he been sent?This is a marvelous British murder mystery, with engaging characters, a large group of suspects, a murder with an apparent motive that Rutledge (goaded by Hamish) does not want to believe.  The obvious suspects are all men who have served in the war, and to varying degrees are now paying the physical and/or psychological price for their service.  Rutledge has difficulties believing what appear to be blatant clues.  The portraits of a village trying to come to grips with these veterans and their problems, gives us a clear idea of the range of emotions survivors endured--from adopting the stiff upper lip, to consigning those less fortunate to the "out of sight, out of mind" dustbin. And for those of you who like good plot twists, I'll say simply that the ending was quite different.  I thought I had it figured out (and I did) but then I didn't.  No more...no spoilers, but you'll love it!Charles Todd, actually a pseudonym for a mother-son writing team, gives us a nicely developed protagonist with just enough background and motivation to make up eager for more. They do a bang-up job of painting a picture of the time, and leave us rushing out the door in pursuit of the next episode. There are currently 14 in this series, which is obviously going to delve into the effects of shell-shock, and  the societal changes in British society as a result of changing roles during and after the War.
tloeffler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Home from World War I, Inspector Ian Rutledge has returned to Scotland Yard, battling shell-shock and the ghost of a Scottish soldier. He is immediately sent to a small village to find the murderer of a popular local colonel. The main suspect is a decorated war hero and friend of royalty. He realizes he has been set up, and struggles to find the truth from a close-mouthed population.In my efforts to learn more about World War I, I have found novels and books set directly after the War will give me a better view of what happened in France, better than those set during the war. This is no exception. It was a very interesting psychological study, and I will continue with the series.
FicusFan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This an historical mystery set in England after WWI. It is the start of the Ian Rutledge series. This series was picked by my RL mystery book group. I never would have read this book otherwise. I enjoyed it very much and will continue on my own with the series.The story is about a Scotland Yard inspector, Ian Rutledge. He was in the war, and is just out of the hospital for shell shock. His girl dumped him while he was in the hospital, too afraid to deal with the damaged Ian who returned from the war. Ian is still shaky and brokenhearted, trying to get back to normal. He hopes work will help him. He was good at solving crimes before the war. The problem with Ian is he seems to be haunted by the dead sergeant he ordered executed for refusal to advance. He also had to administer the coup de grace to Hamish when the firing squad didn't kill him. Hamish talks to Ian, and torments him. Ian has to keep Hamish a secret or he will be considered not just shell shocked, but crazy. With the record of his illness he can't afford any problems with his new cases or he will be retired, and possibly sent back to the hospital. Unfortunately, Ian's superior, Bowles, hates him. He is not of the upper class, and he feels Ian is too privileged. It makes Bowles angry because he sees how easy it is for those with connections to get help to navigate the problems of life, while people like him slog it out alone. He wants to bring Ian down, while projecting a false front of help and support for him.Bowles finds the perfect case to sink Ian. It is set in the country in Warwickshire and involves the murder of a retired colonel and local top man. The prime suspect is a decorated war hero pilot who has been hobnobbing with the royals. Not solving it will bring disgrace, and solving it will bring the ire of the establishment and the palace.Ian is sent along, and not given all the details. He has to feel his way around, and meet all the locals and work out who did it. It is a typical English Country House mystery, though spread out to the local people and village.Ian struggles with Hamish, with the thought that he may be crazy, with the locals and their secrets and wish to protect their own. It is well written, interesting in terms of the setting, characters and mystery. One of the questions is how real is Hamish, and the author never addresses it directly so you keep guessing is he real or part of Ian's diseased mind ?I read the second book also for the group.
ccayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my first Charles Todd mystery and up until the end, I liked it. Rutledge and Hamish are fascinating and complex. The setting, characters and relationships were well drawn and interesting but the solution to the Colonel's murder came out of the blue for me. I found nothing throughout the book that linked the killer with anything that preceded his/her identity. Todd does an excellent job of showing the effects of war and combat on everyone, those in the war and those left at home.