Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A FINE SUMMER'S DAY by Charles Todd

Those of us familiar with the superb Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge series created by the mother/son team writing under the name of Charles Todd well know that Rutledge is a dedicated but haunted survivor of World War I.  His experiences on the battlefield have created the man he is today, and will leave him little peace.

Now, with A Fine Summer’s Day we are introduced to a young Rutledge in the year prior to the war.  Not only that but we are given a touching picture of an innocent, idealistic England before the war.  Following the assassination at Sarajevo and growing rumors of conflict young men cannot wait to enlist, believing any war would be over shortly and they are eager to be a part of it before it is finished.

However, an oncoming war is not first in young Rutledge’s mind.  He has decided to propose to Jean Gordon, a woman he deeply loves.  His sister, Frances, and good friend, Melinda Crawford, aren’t at all sure she’s the right choice for him but only wish him happiness.  Further, he has been assigned to investigate the death of a man who presumably hanged himself.  Those who knew the departed said he was the least likely to take his own life, he had no reason to.  Suddenly there is another and then another unlikely death at different points in England.   Local constabulary do not welcome a man from Scotland Yard on their turf, yet Rutledge presses on believing that somehow these deaths are connected, but how?

When Jean presses Rutledge to enlist and be her hero, he responds with something to the effect that he is not a soldier who kills but a policeman who catches those who do.  Yet as the war becomes a reality he must choose between the Yard and his country.

Suspense, excellent writing, period detail, plot twists - who could ask for anything more?

- Gail Cooke

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