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A Test of Wills

(Inspector Ian Rutledge #1)

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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  12,914 ratings  ·  1,243 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 Harper (first published December 1st 1994)
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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,914 ratings  ·  1,243 reviews


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Khanh, first of her name, mother of 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
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I have read a couple of Charles Todd's Bess Crawford books and I thought it was time to check out the mother and son duos other historical series; the Ian Rutledge series. The Bess Crawford books take place during WW1, but the Ian Rutledge series takes place just after the end of WW1. And, while Bess Crawford is a nurse at the front is Ian Rutledge a policeman at the Scotland Yard.

Ian Rutledge is back at work after five years at the front. But what not many know is that he is suffering from shel
...more
Brenda
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in 1919 just after the First World War, this story was about the murder of a respected Colonel and about Scotland Yard investigator Ian Rutledge who is suffering from shell-shock. The atrocities of war seen by Rutledge and a certain event involving his sergeant, Hamish, are a burden he constantly carries. This murder is Rutledge's first case since returning to Scotland Yard; in addition to Hamish's voice in his head, he’s worried about his ability to solve the case.

I found this book to be ve
...more
Terri
This is my first dip into the Inspector Ian Rutledge series and what a interesting character the writers have created. The author, Charles Todd, is actually a mother and son writing team. They have made it work. Inspector Ian Rutledge is a damaged man, who barely survived World War 1, he is tragically beyond repair due to shell-shock and guilt. Yet Scotland Yard decides to send him to a small village to uncover a murder. The English village is also shell-shocked from the war, each person is suff ...more
Rebecca
Jun 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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Kirsten #EnoughIsEnough
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
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
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
A small town murder mystery where investigation drags out all the nastiness that's usually hidden in such a place. More than once I wished if the protagonist could just arrest everyone.
Right from the beginning you see that Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge is not in a good place in more ways than one. He is sent to deal with a sensitive case (out of spite and jealousy) with the hope he messes it up.

You get to know Rutledge bit by bit throughout the book. He's been through hell in the Great W
...more
Heidi
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great way to start a new year of reading... with a new-to-me mystery series that starts out strongly.

I like Rutledge— demons and all. The post-WW1 time period is fraught with tension for all of those young men who survived unimaginable horrors to take up living again. Those they left behind have changed as well. I can see how those changes can lead to more murder and mayhem.

I look forward to reading more of this series in the coming year!
Scot
Apr 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Andy
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay. The thing setting it apart from other mysteries is the shell-shock dead comrade hallucination going in Inspector Ian's head, but that seems phony and so it irritated me more than anything else and I won't be reading more in the series. Plus the resolution of this mystery is pretty far fetched.

After writing the above, I went back and looked at when this was written: 1997. That figures. It just doesn't feel authentic to post WWI. Downton Abbey feels more authentic than this.
Ingrid
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
3,5 stars. The book is in a slower pace than we are used to these days, so I had to adapt my 21st century eyes. It's an oldfashioned whodunnit with Ian Rutledge as a WW I veteran who needs to get used to ordinary life after the war. A good description of the English atmosphere and countryside. I liked the book enough to pick up the next one some time from now.
Mary Ronan Drew
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Richard Derus
Dec 16, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Kim
May 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction

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
Katherine
”’Ye’ll no’ triumph over me!,’ Hamish said. ‘I’m a scar on your bluidy soul.’

‘That may be. But we’ll soon find out what we’re both made of.’


Synopsis: Little town, it’s a quiet village
Every day, like the one before
Little town, full of little people
Waking up to say….

HE’S DEAD! HE’S DEAD! MY GOD, THE COLONEL’S DEAD!!!

Pros:
Ian Rutledge, My Goddamn Hero: Ian Rutledge is a detective inspector and former solider former WWI with an impeccable record and a big secret: he’s suffering from a severe cas
...more
Deb Jones
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard is on his first assignment after returning from duty in WWI. Rutledge is not the same man as before, all naivete gone and replaced by the horrors of war. Rutledge was hospitalized for some time after his active duty due to shell shock (what is now termed PTSD). Can he still perform his duties as before or will his mind succumb to the inner demons lurking there?

A well-written, character-driven story. Rutledge is a man besieged with self-doubt; his physical
...more
Ellen
Dec 31, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Dan
Very slow, painfully so. Not a total loss, but there are many more captivating books out there.
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
Lewis Weinstein
Todd has created a fascinating character in Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge, and an even more interesting character named Hamish MacLeod who lives in Rutledge's head, alternately helping and hindering his real life and his investigations. Rutledge is recently returned from the battlefields of France (WWI) where Hamish died (I won't say how, but it is startling when you learn). There are several books in the series, all very satisfying mysteries.
Luffy
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a very good book. The tussle between the hero and the main female character was epic, there's no other word for it. Unlike classic mysteries, the climax and the reveal are not the highlight of this book. It's the journey, the exposition of Mavers as the main suspect, the victim's past life, and Inspector Rutledge's private demons that makes the book worth following.
Jaksen
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
So here I am about 80 pages from the end and I can't be bothered to finish. Sad. The problem is it's so darn boring.

Set just after WWI, small English village, and Detective Ian Rutledge is called in to investigate the murder of Colonel Harris. Seems the colonel's head was blown off while he was out riding. Of course Rutledge is treated with varying degrees of indifference and disdain by just about everyone. The locals want to believe the local drunk - or maybe local crazy guy - killed the colone
...more
Ruth
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime-historical
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
Tamora Pierce
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Michael D. Kanner
First, this is only a slight variation on what I always call the English Garden Mystery. The largest variation being the main character not being an amateur but a Scotland Yard detective. There is another difference, but it is not really significant to the plot and doesn't really seem to have any purpose.

Second, the book is littered with enough red herrings to feed the entire country of Norway, and none of which lead to the solution to the mystery. While one or two is nice, there were so many th
...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.
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.
Terri
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ian Rutledge is a detective called in by Scotland Yard to investigate the murder of a Colonel where the main suspect is a decorated war hero and friend of the Royal Family. If this goes wrong, he will be the scapegoat. Suffering 'Shell Shock' from the war, he has to prove his abilities to himself as well. And the case, certainly is complicated. Very well written and engaging historical story
Veronica
3.5 stars

My first book by the mother/son writing team who publish under the name Charles Todd. It had an easy and comforting writing style, a shell-shocked and sympathetic protagonist, and an ending with a twist I didn't see coming.
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Charles Todd is the pen name used by the mother-and-son writing team, Caroline Todd and Charles Todd. Together they write the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford Series. They have published two standalone mystery novels and many short stories.

Other books in the series

Inspector Ian Rutledge (1 - 10 of 22 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)
“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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“Love teaches you humility—patience—understanding.” 2 likes
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