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A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge #1)

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  6,611 ratings  ·  628 reviews
In 1919, Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge remains haunted by World War I, where he was forced to have a soldier executed for refusing to fight. When Rutledge is assigned to investigate a murder involving the military, his emotional war wounds flare. It is a case that strikes dangerously close to home--one that will test Rutledge's precarious grip on his own sanity. A " ...more
Paperback, 305 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published December 1st 1994)
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Best Historical Mystery
52nd out of 1,028 books — 2,813 voters
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Favorite Historical Mystery Series
90th out of 692 books — 704 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Khanh (Clowns, Nightmares, and Bunnies)
In terms of book boyfriends, the main character in this series, Ian Rutledge is my number one. That's right, he beats out Valek, Ash, Morpheus, The Darkling. I love Ian Rutledge that much. I have read every single book in this very long series.

On a marry-fuck-kill scale, Ian Rutledge is a solid marry. I want to love him. He is a wounded warrior, a former soldier, more noble in character than any I have read.

I want to make a home with him. I want to spend evenings together with him in our comfo
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
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We have to be ashamed to not want to die.

It is 1919 and Inspector Ian Rutledge has returned from the trenches of France to resume his duties at Scotland Yard. Before the war he had a knack, a way of seeing beyond what people were willing to tell him. It is described at one point as putting his fingers on the pulse of a dead man and bringing him back to life. The war has left Rutledge shattered. His fiance has broken off their engagement. She is terrified of the man England has sent back to her.
...more
Kirsten
Wow! I finally got to reading an Ian Rutledge novel. I really like Todd's other series starring Bess Crawford. So, I finally got around to trying this one. Am I glad I did.

Now, I have to say any book set in this era is going to get my attention. I love books set just before, during, and just after WW I. But this book goes further than just having the Great War as a backdrop. He focuses on what the War did to people, to families...

It has a wonderfully complex detective with what would be called P
...more
Rebecca
Detective Rutledge makes a compelling protagonist--with the voice of a dead man criticizing his every step, he's completely aware that he's inches from failure, disgrace, and most likely suicide. It's a pity that his mystery, while it ties up very neatly, relies too heavily on coincidence.

This is a very well constructed small town mystery, in which no one has an obvious motive and everyone has a hidden one. The characters are vivid, sympathetic in their own ways, and baffling. Rutledge himself i
...more
Kim

For a long time I assumed that I did not like historical crime fiction. So it’s taken me a quite a while to get around to reading this novel, the first in a series set in post World War I England featuring a war veteran, Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard.

Charles Todd (an American mother and son writing team) clearly read Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels before embarking on this series. Rutledge, like Wimsey, suffers from shell-shock: the term coined in World War I to describe wh
...more
Scot
Cris recommended this, and she's a fine judge of merit and a good source of suggested readings for the mystery genre. In this first book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, the hero has survived the horror of fighting on the Front against the Kaiser's forces in WW I, and now back in England he must deal with the haunting voice of a Scotsman he was forced to have killed for treason for refusing to fight on during a particularly spirit-numbing battle over in France. Rutledge keeps this shell sho ...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.9* of five

Not quite a four-star read because the solution to the mystery wasn't exactly fair.

Still and all, the character of Ian Rutledge, shell-shocked veteran of The Great War, is wonderfully realized. He's drawn with care and kindness, yet flawed in his core by the presence of Hamish MacLeod, a dead soldier whose afterlife is inside Rutledge's stressed-out brain. Hamish comes to life when Rutledge thinks he least needs him, but in the end it's Hamish whose voice resonates in the rea
...more
Mary Ronan Drew
The Ian Rutledge mysteries are unique and not just because the pseudonymous author is a mother/son collaboration. In this first in a series, A Test of Wills (1996), it is immediately post World War I and Rutledge has returned to his pre-war job as a detective at Scotland Yard. But like so many men, he came back from the war changed in fundamental ways, the primary way being his hallucination, Hamish MacLeod, a soldier in his company whom he was forced to execute shortly before the end of the war ...more
Tamora Pierce
Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is a veteran of WWI, haunted by shell shock and the psychological ghost of a man he had to shoot for cowardice. Now he's home, back at work, and given his first case after the war, the murder of a highly respected man. The top suspect is another highly respected man and high profile war hero, and the professional enemy who gave the case to Rutledge is hoping that he will either accuse the war hero and be dismissed for arresting the unpopular man, or have anot ...more
Ruth
c1996. FWFTB: colonel, murdered, war-hero, affair, sanity. I usually agree with the comments made by the New York Times Book Review but in this case 'a harrowing pyschological drama' is not how I would describe this book at all. It is essentially a village mystery ala Midsomer Murders/Cabot Cove but with an unusual detective (he has a 'voice' in his head which is remarkably perceptive and knowledgeable). The tension is racheted up with POVs by the various characters confirming that all is not as ...more
Janice
Ian Rutledge is a veteran of WWI, suffering from shell shock even as he returns to his work at Scotland Yard. Inspector Rutledge is haunted by scenes from the war, and especially by the voice of a fellow soldier. Despite his inner struggles, Rutledge strives to become once again the superior detective, known for his skill in solving crime. Working to catch a murderer in a small village, Rutledge struggles to control his inner turmoil while trying to focus on this murder and all the people involv ...more
Kribu
Enjoyed it a lot, all in all. I was not 100% convinced of the resolution - although, yes, the tiny little clue-bits were there, I suppose, but even so - but I enjoyed the writing and Ian Rutledge makes for a fascinating, excellent hero.

If I had any complaints other than the resolution / how the murder was solved, I'd say "it was a bit too slow" but since I generally don't mind slow pacing, I think it's just my current mood, really.

Definitely a series to read more of at some point.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
A good historical mystery. Recommended.

For a further review: http://susannag.booklikes.com/post/74... .
R.M. Byrd
Detective Ian Rutledge is tragically damaged from his experiences in the Great War. Shell-shocked, barely able to hold himself together, he is haunted by the memory of Hamish, a man he was forced to execute for refusing to obey the order to go over the top, a man whose body also saved his life by protecting him from being smothered after Ian was buried alive by artillery fire. Hamish's voice speaks to him, so he must solve the mystery of a murder all while Hamish criticizes him, yet will not let ...more
Dan
Very slow, painfully so. Not a total loss, but there are many more captivating books out there.
Ron
Mysteries aren't my favorite fiction, usually because the Holmes, or Marple or Poirot are so superhumanly smart that you never doubt they've solve the crime. The only mystery is how they'll do it. In fact, usually, it's because the author adroitly omits details.

This story is different: the detective is so deeply and obviously flawed that solving the crime seems to be the least of his problems. But solve the crime he does, despite his demon.

A very good read.
Maggie Boyd
I absolutely adore the Bess Crawford mysteries so thought I would give Todd's other series a try. This one didn't work very well for me. It is book one of Inspector Ian Rutledge. The year is 1919 and the Inspector has recently returned home from the war. His supervisor hates him and is anxious to be rid of him. When a case comes along likely to destroy a man's career - a war hero accused of killing his fiances guardian - Rutledge is sent out with the hope that he will botch things. He works slow ...more
Joyce Lagow
First in the Inspector Rutledge of Scotland Yard series.[return][return]The premise of this series is a good one. Ian Rutledge, who was an officer in World War I and who suffered shell shock (now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD), has returned to his pre-war occupation, that of a Scotland Yard inspector. Nearly driven insane by his experiences in the trenches, including being temporarily buried alive in the mud from a direct hit by artillery, Rutledge under stress hears the voice ...more
Ellen
This is obviously a successful series, with many installments and lots of good reviews, but after reading the first of the books in the series, I won't be reading any others. I love mysteries and historical mysteries, and am fascinated by WWI, but this book just isn't done well enough in any of these areas. True, Inspector Rutledge is a fascinating character and the device of putting the voice of Hamish in his head, as a result of shell-shock, is compelling. Hamish was a soldier in Rutledge's un ...more
Austen to Zafón
This historical mystery covers the same territory as the Maisie Dobbs books, taking place in the post-WWI years in England. From a modern perspective, both look at the sad results of trench warfare and the treatment (or lack thereof) of soldiers suffering what we now call PTSD. This book, written by a mother-son team, is darker than the Maisie Dobbs books. The detective, Ian Rutledge, is returning to his Scotland Yard job after the war, hoping that a sense of purpose and busy-ness will help him ...more
Margaret
This is the first of Todd's historical mystery series about Inspector Ian Rutledge, an Englishman who returns to his job at Scotland Yard. He's trying to conceal the true extent of his WWI-induced shell shock, but that becomes far more difficult when he's assigned to a case which involves another shell-shocked ex-soldier. The historical details are very good, and so is the characterization, especially Todd's depiction of Rutledge's mental condition. The plot doesn't quite hang together, especial ...more
Mary
I enjoyed this but found the mystery a little on the weak side. I'd have preferred the Inspector to do more sleuthing rather than just being in the right place at the right time. Still, I love the character development. Inspector Rutledge is damaged goods, but thoughtful and quietly sympathetic. The voice of Hamish is an effective narrative tool, and I think the author(s) used it well to add foreshadowing, entertainment, and another layer of complexity to the Inspector.
Mary
Jan 26, 2015 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
This is the first in the series and one of the best. Captain Harris is found on his estate with his head blown off, but nobody in the village has a word to say against him. He and his friend Colonel Wilton who is also the fiance of his ward Lettice, had a quarrel the night before and again on the morning Harris was shot, but nobody's telling Rutledge what it was about. Everyone would like to pin it on The town ne'er-do-well, Mavers, but he was haranguing the Monday morning shoppers from the vill ...more
Shirley Schwartz
This is the first book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series. It is set in England just after the First World War. Ian Rutledge was a police inspector before the war began, but served in France in the British Army for the entire war. He does manage to make it through the war, but he comes back a completely changed man. Rutledge is suffering from a severe case of shell shock (or PTSD as it is now known). After the war and after a long stint in a clinic, he tries to go back to his previous ...more
Bryan Higgs
I had been reading the Bess Crawford books by Charles Todd, and discovered that the authors (a mother/son team) have also authored a series of books about a Scotland Yard detective, Ian Rutledge, set in the days following WW1. So, I picked up one of this series, A Lonely Death (see my review at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), and found it engaging. So, I decided to try this series, starting at the first book, this one.

I must admit that, had I started with this book rather than the lat
...more
Katherine
The first of Todd's Inspector Ian Rutledge series. Not as good as some of the later ones - too many red herrings and not enough clues to the actual murderer.

Ian Rutledge has returned from the Great War to an England devastated by the loss of life and permanent injuries to the generation of men who fought in WWI. Taking up his position as inspector for Scotland Yard, Ian's supervisor hates him. Ian himself is full of doubts, commented on by his permanent guest, Hamish, who resides in the back of
...more
Ed
Nov 02, 2014 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: British mystery fans
A good friend, whose reading tastes are similar to mine, recommended that I try the Inspector Rutledge Series by Charles Todd. I must thank him the next time I see him. This was a wonderful book. Interestingly, Charles Todd is the pen name of the son and mother duo of Charles and Caroline Todd.

The story is gripping. Inspector Ian Rutledge has returned from the WW I trenches of France to his position at Scotland Yard. He's afraid he's lost his knack for seeing things other people would miss. In m
...more
Judith
In 1914, Insp. Ian Rutledge left Scotland Yard to serve his country. Now it's 1919 and he's back - still suffering from shell-shock and constantly hearing the voice of Hamish (a Scots corporal he had shot for refusing to fight)in his head all the time. Superintendent Bowles, his boss, has been asked to send someone to Upper Streatham in Warwickshire to investigate the cold-blooded murder of Col. Charles Harris, a much respected and decorated soldier. The suspect is the fiance of Col. Harris' war ...more
Lisa Johnson
Title: A Test of Wills (The First Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery)
Author: Charles Todd
Pages: 305
Year: 1996 (Copyright)
Publisher: Harper
I was first introduced to this series of mysteries when I received a free copy of Hunting Shadows, the 16th book in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed that book, but wanted to know the background and beginnings of Inspector Rutledge and his relationship with Hamish. So I went back to the first book in the series to see what I might discover. I soon learned that the
...more
Susan
This is the first in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series. When the highly respected Colonel Harris is shot at point blank range, the local Warwickshire force turn to Scotland Yard for help. Superintendent Bowles sends Rutledge - damaged by his time in the trenches, to investigate. The most likely suspect for killing Harris is local war hero, Captain Mark Wilton, a man who is personal friends with the Prince of Wales and has been decorated with the Victoria Cross. However, as Wilton was sho ...more
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Charles Todd is the pen name used by a mother-and-son writing team, Caroline Todd and Charles Todd.
More about Charles Todd...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Ian Rutledge (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Wings of Fire (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #2)
  • Search the Dark (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #3)
  • Legacy of the Dead (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #4)
  • Watchers of Time (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #5)
  • A Fearsome Doubt (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #6)
  • A Cold Treachery (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #7)
  • A Long Shadow (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #8)
  • A False Mirror (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #9)
  • A Pale Horse (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #10)
  • A Matter of Justice (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #11)
A Duty To The Dead (Bess Crawford, #1) An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford #2) Wings of Fire (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #2) A Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford #3) A Lonely Death (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #13)

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“Tell me something. Why is everyone so determined to believe Wilton is innocent?"

Surprised, Davies said, "He's a war hero isn't he? Admired by the King and a friend of the Prince of Wales. He's visited Sandringham, been received by Queen Mary herself! A man like that doesn’t go around killing people!"

With a wry downturn of his lips, Rutledge silently asked, How did he win his medals, you fool, if not by being so very damned good at killing?”
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“For a moment the man from London and the woman in mourning considered each other in silence, each gauging temperament from the slender evidence of appearance.” 0 likes
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