Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Test Of Wills by Charles Todd - Book Review British mystery

        Ian Rutledge left Scotland yard to fight in WWI, but now he is back, traumatized from the experience.  Part of his trauma is due to Hamish, a person that he was with in the war and is now part of his mind.   

         One of Rutledge’s colleagues knows his problems and asks him to take on a case  in which a military war hero is murdered and one of the suspects is a war hero.   It could lead to further complications in Rutledge’s life depending on how the case is solved.  

         From there, much of the story is a police procedural where Rutledge is questioning the family members and the suspects in the murder.  While he is investigating the case, he is fighting off the demon who in this case is Hamish as he continues to torment Rutledge’s mind because of the guilt that Rutledge has since his trauma.  

          I like the concept of the story and my first thought is comparing it to Dennis Leary’s character Tommy in the hit series Rescue Me.   In that show, Leary was fighting off his trauma after losing his friend during the attack on the WTC on 9/11.  I think it’s a fair comparison and have to say that more was done on Leary’s character than in this book.  Yes, we had the conflict of Rutledge fighting off Hamish but part of me thought that more  could have been done with this.  

           At times throughout this book, much of the story going through the motions of questioning everyone and it wasn’t much different than reading many detective novels such as the Matt Scudder series by Lawrence Block.  We even had the scene where Rutledge said I know that you killed the Colonel.  

           I think that if more was done with Hamish though, then there would have been more tension throughout the story and it would be a great conflict to test Rutledge’s sanity as he is continuing to investigate the murder.  

           I did like the way the story went to it’s conclusion though and I was surprised by how Todd did that.  I thought he tied things up nicely and that part of the story was fast-paced and brought the story to a great conclusion.  

           As far as the other characters were concerned, I didn’t see them as being memorable although towards the end, that seemed to change.  I didn’t see a big conflict between Rutledge and the people at Scotland yard considering that he had gone though a trauma and that could have been brought out more during the story. 

           All in all, I did enjoy the story and feel intrigued enough to read more of this series because I’d like to see how Todd will develop Rutledge and Hamish further.  I have no problem giving this book four stars.  

Ron Hummer 

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