Sunday, March 26, 2017

A FINE SUMMER'S DAY by Charles Todd

Charles Todd’s A Fine Summer’s Day opens on Sunday, June 28, 1914. This was the same day terrorists assassinated Austrian archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, the event which set off World War I.

On that day, Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge proposed to Jean Gordon. Another man, far away, proposed to his beloved. And still a third man made plans to bury his mother and start off on a cross-country murder rampage.

Most of the murderer's victims would drink a glass of milk laced with a deadly dose of Laudanum. Coroners would rule several of the deaths suicides. In at least two cases local police would accuse innocent people of murder even going so far as to take one to trial.

But Ian Rutledge would think all the deaths were murders. He would believe another seemingly unrelated case is connected to the murders. He would believe the presently accused are innocent. And he would work against time to prove their innocence.

What did the victims have in common? 

Rutledge uses his intuition and his penchant to see things others overlook. He plods along, struggles with a hardheaded superior who wants a quick solution, follows the facts, and tries desperately to find the thread to break the case.

At one point Rutledge says, “Even though I myself don’t know what the man looks like, I’ve got only a general description to be going on with. But I think it can be done with time and perseverance.”

And that is one key to Inspector Ian Rutledge--perseverance. Following up on every detail until he finds the thread that breaks the case.

This time he is almost too late. The war is closing in, and he will end up going.

Rutledge’s fiancé Jean becomes impatient with him. At first she is taken with the pageant of war. Her father is a decorated soldier. She wants a pageant-filled wedding with all the trappings of military service. But then the war turns ugly. Many come home in coffins or badly maimed, and many don’t come home at all. All of a sudden, reality sets in.

It is hard for me to overstate how much I like the Ian Rutledge books. (Believe it or not, I’ve just run across them.) Charles Todd’s writing is clear and interesting. The characters fascinate. And the history resonates with what is happening in the story.

When I first read about this book, I thought this was the first book in the series, and in a way, it is. It is a “prequel” written later to tell about Rutledge’s early history.

So now, my task is to keep reading. 

Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge books have caught my fancy.  


Mathew Paust said...

Well, damn, Joe, now you've got me hooked!

Joe Barone said...

Matthew, These are good books. --Joe.