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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I quite enjoyed this novel with it's post war themes and the odd, quirky Inspector Rutledge who has been suffering, and arguably still is, from the effect of post traumatic stress due to his experiences in the military. I was intrigued by Hamish, a disembodied voice existing inside Rutledge's head, and the story behind his creation is extremely original and perhaps one of the best elements of the novel but; this has been a long series of books and you're missing out on a huge amount of background information if you read this one before the others. I don't think it works well as a stand alone. The plot's not overly complicated and involves a lot of movement from place to place as Rutledge follows a series of clues leading him on a cat and mouse chase involving, amongst other things, the world of fine wine and unexplained disappearances. There's little I'd describe as dark or disturbing and the plot relies upon a sense of building mystery and post war atmosphere to draw the reader in. I'd recommend Proof of Guilt to those who enjoy a slow, thoughtful read.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Charles Todd is the pen name of an American mother-and-son writing team that has written fifteen volumes in the series of Inspector Rutledge mysteries. This is the first of them I have read.

The action is set in 1920. Rutledge has returned from convalescing after the war to a post as a detective at Scotland Yard, but he is still suffering from his wartime experiences, particular an incident when he was forced to execute a soldier called Hamish for disobeying orders. He has also recently lost his girlfriend and now has only his sister as a close friend and lives mainly for his work. Hamish remains a haunting voice in Rutledge's head throughout the novel as he struggles to unravel a complex case involving a murder and several other deaths.

It starts with the discovery of a dead body that appears to be the victim of a hit-and-run accident, but it soon becomes apparent that he has been murdered elsewhere and left in the road where he was found. An expensive gold watch on the body is traced to Lewis French, a member of the family firm of French, French and Traynor, producers and importers of superior Madeira wine. Rutledge goes to the family house in Essex, where he has been told that French is waiting for the arrival from Portugal of his partner, Matthew Traynor. But French is not there and when Traynor's boat arrives in England he is not on board, although he definitely started the journey.

From French's sister, bitter because she has been `frozen out' of the family firm, Rutledge learns of family rivalries, and is told a strange story of an incident many years earlier when an apparently deranged Portuguese man arrived at the home and attacked members of the family. He was confined in an asylum for many years, but Rutledge discovers he is now working in the home of a Mrs. Bennett, whose household staff is composed of prisoners and mental patients who have been consigned to her care. As the story progresses, several other significant characters enter the scene, including French's fiancé, his jilted former girlfriend, and the chief clerk at the family firm, some of who come under suspicion. Rutledge's determined efforts to unravel an increasingly tangled web of clues is not helped by his superior officer, who pressurises him to concentrate on one young woman in particular as the main suspect, although Rutledge believes she is innocent of the crime. Eventually all the various loose ends are brought together, and the mystery solved, in a dramatic finale, but it is a rather hurried and not very satisfactory finish.

This is a fairly easy-read detective story, and reasonably enjoyable, but lacks credibility in many respects. Scotland Yard is portrayed as a very amateurish organization, which by 1920 it was not, and would a senior detective conduct a murder investigation in the field almost entirely alone, often putting himself in great danger, while lower ranking officers are assigned to routine tasks `back at base'. There are also other quibbles: the authors often show a lack of understanding of English idiom; Hamish's diction is a laughable mixture of accents; America words are sometimes used instead of their English equivalent (`marketing' instead of `shopping' etc.); and they sometimes get their facts wrong. Examples are: a boat from Portugal would not pass the Dungeness Lighthouse; Rutledge always starts his car by cranking the engine, whereas by 1920 all major manufacturers had introduced starter motors; and lost cats are not taken in by Scotland Yard! With better research, and more attention to the ending, this could have been a better book.
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on 30 May 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I do enjoy this series. Of course there are minor quibbles: the American co-authors sometimes show a lack of understanding of English idiom and maybe Hamish's utterances are a strange hybrid of Scots, English and American, but then he is a ghost living in an Englishman's head.
What I like is the overall feel of the book. I was not around ninety-odd years ago and cannot vouch for the overall accuracy, but I get a real feel of the period from this series. Ian Rutledge continues to be a man haunted, literally, by his wartime experiences; he is alone, his latest girlfriend having discovered that her husband, thought dead, is possibly alive but terribly injured in France and has gone to him, and all he has is his sister, and his work.
The case itself is complicated. An unidentified corpse, two wealthy missing cousins, another missing ex-soldier, much trekking round the south of England for Rutledge in his car (his superiors feel he should take the train like everybody else), a philanthropist lady who employs ex-criminals, two rather wishy-washy females and one feisty one who is targeted by Rutledge's chief as a murderess. There is a fair amount of action, a lot of which Rutledge takes on himself and the ending, if maybe a little hurried, is satisfactory.
Now looking forward to the next installment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2013
I usually cant put them down. However for me the constant to~ing and fro~ing of Rutledge over the southern countryside started to get a bit tedious. Plus there was too much confusion towards the end as to who was dead and where and by whom. Its almost as if the co~writing team took it in turns to write the plot a different way.
And what happend to Lewis French in the end. I was vey surprised at the abrupt ending.
It wont put me off reading some more of Charles Gray though.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ive no idea what is happening at Amazon Vine these days!! I reviewed this book three days ago and as the review has not featured under the listing I am requested to review it again especially as now there is a punishing time limit involved.

As I recall I stated that I had been a fan of this mother/son combo since the 1990s and am amazed that they still continue to produce such high quality novels.

Rutledge assisted (or hindered) by his internalised Watson, a guilty persona he is unable to shake off, investigated the mysterious accident and several disappearances of folk involved in the wine trade.

The book could have stepped elegantly out of the Golden Crime era, a time in which it is set. It has all the ingredients ~ a motley crew of suspects, more red herrings than you can shake a stick at and out intrepid hero, now sporting a new car, in pursuit of the many and various leads.

A great read and fans will lap it up
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a well written and atmospheric crime novel. This novel is set in the period just after the first world war. The novel is easy to read and full of suspense as well as being evocative of its period setting. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 8 February 2014
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a really good detective novel. Set just after the first world war, you can feel the atmospherics.
Suspense and pace abounds.
This is an easy read. Difficult to put down
Recommended.
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on 21 November 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a big reader of crime and detective fiction I find it strange that Charles Todd has never previously shown up on my radar. The authors (unusually it's a mother and son writing team) hail from Delaware and North Carolina, but unusually have decided to set their Ian Rutledge detective series in England, with Rutledge working for Scotland Yard.

An unknown man is run over and killed and murder is suspected with Rutledge leading the investigation.

This is nicely told and old-fashioned in a way, yet it's still a page turner. A very good yarn!
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The first part of this mystery takes off with a pretty good pace and in an interesting setting, but then there is a very long and slow-moving middle part followed by a rushed ending. The writing is consistently ok throughout, but the story doesn't hold up. I'll not be back for more of this series.
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
im not usually a fan of detective series novels but this one was quite good , a slightly strange main charachter with a side kick in his imagination and lots of murder , mystery and mayhem. i will probably go back over the rest of the series as this was a fairly easy read until the end. good
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