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on 30 April 2017
I have never reviewed a book before but I love murder mysteries and read every day! I had not heard of Charles Todd before and wasn't sure I would enjoy it. I couldn't put it down. I love the character of the Inspector and the ignorance about shell shock is sobering. My dislike of Bowles was immediate from the writing as was the ongoing descriptions of the suspects. All in all an extremely satisfying read and I shall certainly read the rest of the series.
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on 2 March 2017
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VINE VOICEon 10 November 2007
This is the firs in a series of Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries. It does not take us long to know the man and the burden he carries. It is this side of him and the descriptions of the world after the Great War that adds a unique value to the writing and our lives also.

A week ago headstrong Colonel Harris was unceremoniously dispatched. All signs point to the dispatcher being a war hero with friends in high places. Who ever takes the case needs to be expendable. Rutledge's superior Bowls suspected Rutledge's secret and decided he would make the perfect scapegoat.

It is interesting as the story unfolds we see mysteries within mysteries, maybe a few red herrings and many unwell people that can usually be detected by Rutledge but not always. As there is a race with time Rutledge's trying to regain his uncanny detective skills we also but figure out who did the deed and who. To some the answer will be obvious to others it will feel that he pulled a clue out of the closet at the last moment. In any case you will be intrigued to the conclusion.
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on 14 December 2007
A fascinating period who dunnit which is impossible to fathom because of in incredible twist in the tail. I loved this unique troubled detective battling with the post traumatic stress of WWI as he comes into contact with former soldiers and civilians scarred for life by this terrible conflict.
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VINE VOICEon 21 April 2009
The first Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery featuring a detective recently returned from the battlefields of WW1 and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, not that this was recognised in those days.

Written by an American pair of authors (mother and son I think) it is surprising how well they capture England in the period just after the first World War. The formality and pace of life is well defined as is a complex lead character that you don't necessarily 'like' but you admire his approach as he deals with the murder he is assigned to, and his own demons. The murder is that of a respected ex-officer and the prime suspect is a hero of the war, a potentially embarrassing outcome in the post war period. As Rutledge gently peels away the life and relationships in a small English village the outcome is hard to guess and is satisfying when it comes.
The pace may be too slow for some, but this is thoughtful and engaging stuff.
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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 shortly to be marrying Lettice Wood, a young ward of Harris, and the two men were seen having a violent argument both the night before and the morning of the murder, he seems the obvious choice. Fearing fallout over the possible arrest, Bowles hopes that the case will end Rutledge's career before it has a chance to restart.

Rutledge is an interesting character; a man who suffered claustophobia and shell shock and who is plagued by the voices of a dead comrade. Now he realises that he must unearth the murderer among the good folks of Upper Streetham, who have their fair share of secrets to hide. Everyone is determined to believe Wilton innocent and to hide the truth from the man from London, but Rutledge knows he must suceed, both to solve the crime and save himself. Good start to a long running series.
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on 22 December 2015
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 shell shock and he hears voices. Or rather he hears voices of one particular man that he knew from the war. A man that never got home alive and he feels guilty about it. But he still tries to do a good job, despite the fact that he suffering from shell shock.

In this, the first book is he sent to deal with the murder of well-liked Colonel Charles Harris who was shot while he was out riding in the morning. He was seen by the house staff arguing with Mark Wilton, the main suspect on the day before. Mark Wilton is also the Colonels wards fiance and Charles and Mark are good friends. There is no evidence that Mark is the killer and the only man that says that he saw the two men together arguing on the day the Colonel died is a man suffering from shell shock. That disturbs Ian Rutledge who starts to suspect that someone at Scotland Yard knows about is affliction and that he was given this case so that he would fail.

This is the kind of book that takes awhile to get into. You don't know that much about Ian Rutledge, but clues about him, about his time in the war and what happen to him, is revealed throughout the book. In the end, I came to like him very much, he is a man that been through hell, that is trying to get back to the life he had before the war, but it's hard. Jean, the woman he loves, broke up with him after he got home. He was not the man she had known before the war and neither was she the girl he knew before the war. And, it doesn't make it better that he is hearing the voice of Hamish in his head.

The case was interesting, albeit the start of the book was a bit slow as much of the time, in the beginning, is spent on getting to know all the involved characters, their relationship with the murdered man. It was in no way boring, but it felt like it took some time to get somewhere with the case. But it's well worth it since it made you really get to know the characters, they feel well developed. Rutledge had to during the days he was on the case painstakingly try to find out the answers from people that not always was that forthcoming with the truth. And, I really liked the last part of the book when it all started to make sense and the truth about the murder was revealed. I was surprised about how it all turned out and never suspected that kind of ending.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series. I like Rutledge, and I hope he will get better and that he someday will find peace. Also, I really hope that he will meet Bess Crawford some day.

4.5 stars
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on 24 August 2016
I just knew there was a particular reason the Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery series was so widely recommended and I was determined to get to the final page and find out the possible answer to the popularity of these mysteries. I’m so glad I did just that and finally sat down with A Test of Wills: The First Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) because it turned out to be a historically fascinating read that had quite a few very convincing atmospheric descriptions of a brutally changed world, artfully dropped clues throughout the chapters and surprising in-depth psychological character examinations all along with a seemingly simplistic central murder mystery that somehow cleverly blended themes and everything mentioned together so perfectly. I can’t help but say, this is an elegantly arranged story that deserves the attention and literary genre accolades it has been given over the years and shouldn’t be missed. Perhaps with this novel, the only negative I can provide is there was an absent feeling of an true ending, conclusions had to be drawn and pulled from the reader’s imagination but in a clever way evidence and speculations were left in points of dialogue and by the last telling remark you have a pretty good idea what happens after Inspector Ian Rutledge leaves the scene. He may have left the scene but I am very eager to follow him to the next book and have an overall confident feeling about this vintage styled series.
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on 5 April 2015
I thought his novel started well. I was impressed by how the American authors seemed to have captured the atmosphere of an English village in the post-WWI era. The scene appeared to be set for an exciting read. Unfortunately, as I proceeded my patience began to run out, as next to nothing happened! Inspector Rutledge just seemed to go round and round in circles speculating on various potential culprits, with no developments to draw the reader in to the story. There was a final twist - in the last few pages - but this came entirely out of the blue, bearing no relation to his previous investigations. It would surely have been far more dramatic had the story slowly unravelled. Alas, I was left thoroughly bored and disappointed.

I was not too bothered by the occasional American spelling, although it grated to encounter the word "sidewalk" in the context of an English village. And the authors are under the misconception that an accused person may be "not proved" [sic] as an alternative to acquittal or being found guilty. A pity that their (evidently considerable) homework should be let down by such howlers - although admittedly this would probably be beyond all but the most discerning American reader, for whom these books are apparently primarily directed.
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on 11 June 2013
I expected to enjoy this more than I did. Rutledge was an interesting character with problems of his own and the ideas about shell-shock were also interesting but somewhere in the middle I started to lose interest. The plot seems stuck for quite a while before suddenly rounding up with a surprise ending.
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