Tag Archives: charles todd

The Gate Keeper An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries)by Charles Todd (Review #2)

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The Gate KeeperInspector Ian Rutledge is a troubled man. He remains haunted by his experiences in the war and it is starting to impact both his personal and professional lives. While on a solo drive in rural England after his sister’s wedding, Rutledge nearly hits a car stopped in the middle of the road. To his surprise, there is a young woman standing by a man’s body, her hand’s covered in blood. Despite appearances, she is adamant about her innocence, leaving Rutledge uncertain as to what to do next. It turns out that the deceased individual is from the village of Wolf Pit and by all accounts is very well liked by nearly everyone in Wolf Pit. Despite being something of a witness to the crime, Rutledge is given approval by the Yard to lead the investigation, which heats up when a second murder occurs and then a third. In order to solve these crimes, Rutledge must pry into the past of the original victim to determine what the common thread is before the killer strikes again.

The Gate Keeper: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Gate KeeperThe Gate Keeper opens with Inspector Rutledge’s controlled life about to be upset as his sister has married and is off on her honeymoon. Following the ceremony, Rutledge starts home but decides to go for a short drive to sort out his feelings on his life with his sister now married. The drive turns out to take him quite a distance from London and ends with him coming across a woman standing over a body lying in the middle of the road. Rutledge stops to help and doesn’t quite know what to make of her story that a man stepped out in front of their car. Her companion got out to ask what the fellow needed and was shot. The man in the road then vanished. Although the woman is visibly upset, he sends her in his car into town to get the constable while he stays with the body and their car. The constable comes and takes over the crime scene and sends Rutledge and the woman on their way. Rutledge books a room at the inn in town. The next morning he goes to see how the woman is and after hearing from her and speaking with the constable, urges him to request Scotland Yard be called in. He then calls his boss and arranges to be assigned to the case.

There are so many layers to this story that putting the book down was really hard. The victim was Stephen Wentworth, a wealthy man who ran the local bookstore. Simple enough except that his wealth came not from his own family as such, but from an aunt who provided for him when it became clear his parents would not. Digging into the victim’s past, he finds that people who knew Wentworth found him to be quiet, serious and as good of man as there is. Everyone felt that way except it seems his family. It became clear that Stephen’s own mother despised him and had gone out if her way to not only cut him out of their family, but to make his life as unpleasant as possible. On top of this, there is a second murder in the community of another quiet, well liked gentleman who had only the occasional contact with the bookseller. Yet it seems clear the tow murders are related. There are mysteries in Wentworth’s past that add some additional intrigue as well as the elaborately carved pieces of wood in the shape of animals that were left near each victim.

The Gate Keeper: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Gate KeeperThe Gate Keeper opens with Inspector Rutledge’s controlled life about to be upset as his sister has married and is off on her honeymoon. Following the ceremony, Rutledge starts home but decides to go for a short drive to sort out his feelings on his life with his sister now married. The drive turns out to take him quite a distance from London and ends with him coming across a woman standing over a body lying in the middle of the road. Rutledge stops to help and doesn’t quite know what to make of her story that a man stepped out in front of their car. Her companion got out to ask what the fellow needed and was shot. The man in the road then vanished. Although the woman is visibly upset, he sends her in his car into town to get the constable while he stays with the body and their car. The constable comes and takes over the crime scene and sends Rutledge and the woman on their way. Rutledge books a room at the inn in town. The next morning he goes to see how the woman is and after hearing from her and speaking with the constable, urges him to request Scotland Yard be called in. He then calls his boss and arranges to be assigned to the case.

The Shattered Tree: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd (Review #2)

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The Shattered TreeIn the heart of the battle, an exhausted, severely injured British soldier ends up at the same aid station where Bess Crawford is serving. He is treated and sent on to the rear battle line. When she reports the soldier to her superior, mentioning that the soldier was actually French but seemed to speak fluent German. She is told that most likely, the man is simply from an area that has gone back and forth between France and Germany throughout history. Bess considers that, until his sudden disappearance in Paris makes her question where his loyalties lie. After being injured by a sniper’s bullet, Bess herself ends up in Paris and is and begins to search for the missing soldier. She quickly discovers that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye and it may require paying the ultimate price in order to solve it.

The Shattered Tree by mother and son writing team Charles Todd, is the 8th entry in the well-received Bess Crawford series. Set in the early part of the 20th Century, Bess Crawford is an English, mystery-solving nurse. In contrast to Todd’s Ian Rutledge series or other British sleuths, the Crawford novels tend to be less graphic, more of a “cozy” variety. Don’t let that drive you away, though. Crawford is a determined character and certainly holds her own among the distinguished family tree that makes up British sleuths. If you are somewhat burned out on the more hard-core authors, I would encourage you to give Bess Crawford a try. This novel gets 4/5 stars.

Racing the Devil: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Racing the DevilWartime comrades frequently form unusual alliances. Former rivals can become lasting friends through bonding over life/death experiences of any war.
It was June of 1916 when a group of seven English officers who while sharing could be their final drink, they discovered that all of them had lived within one-hundred miles of each other in southern England with each of them being very passionate with motorcars.

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Realizing that this could their last relaxing drink before returning to the Front to fight the Germans, these men agree to a challenge if they survive the war. The agreement is for each of the men to meet in Paris one-year after the war ends and to each bring a vehicle to race all the way to Nice, whether their car is a racer of not.

The race occurs with only the five survivors and becomes dangerous as the drivers approach Nice with one accident, severely injuring the former officer and another vehicle almost pushed off the road.
One year after the race another death occurred of a clergyman who died in an accident. It appears that someone hit his car while pushing it off the road while he was driving.

How does this connect to the racers? The owner of the car was one of the officers.

The Shattered Tree (Bess Crawford Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Shattered TreeBess Crawford is a hard-working battlefield nurse. It is October of 1918 and working in a field hospital in France is exhausting as well as dangerous with combat nearby.

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For one soldier, it is even stranger. One single soldier is holding onto a single tree. Somehow, a man is hiding behind a battered-up tree with no shoes and with little left of his uniform. The rescuers have to pry his fingers from the bark of the tree. Not knowing whether the man is dead or alive, they place him on a stretcher, covering him with a blanket.

No Shred of Evidence: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

No Shred of EvidenceWhen 4 young ladies are accused of murder, Scotland Yard­ Inspector Ian Rutledge is sent to investigate after the first assigned inspector unexpectedly dies of a heart attack. What seems like an open and shut case soon proves to be anything but. The first inspector’s notes are missing and despite what appears to be an eyewitness to the crime, there is no apparent motive and an abundance of contradictory evidence. The deeper Rutledge digs into the background of the accused, the more secrets began to be revealed. Rutledge soon finds himself in a race against time to find the true killer before he strikes again.

No Shred of Evidence by Charles Todd is a first class British mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Set in the years following WW I, Todd has done a yeoman’s job of taking the reader back to the early 20th century, before computers and DNA, when investigating a murder meant hitting the streets instead of tapping on keys. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the 1920’s British countryside where loyalties run deep and secrets are numerous. I won’t be able to read the rest of the series fast enough and give this book 4/5 stars.

A Question of Honor: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries) by Charles Todd

A Question of Honor by Charles ToddReviewed by Nancy Eaton

Bess Crawford’s father was a colonel stationed in India. A Question of Honor begins with a prologue that gives the reader background information about the family’s time there.

Even though the time in India was a happy time for the family, something happened that tarnished the reputation of Colonel Crawford’s regiment. One of the officers who Colonel Crawford had trained is a murderer. His name is Lt. Wade. He killed five people and was never brought to trial. Everyone believed that Lt. Wade had died in the mountains.

Now, ten years later, Bess is still working as a nurse in the front lines. Bess then learned from a dying Sgt. that Lt. Wade is still alive. Bess is determined to find Lt. Wade to try and figure out what made this man a killer.

Bess used her leave to investigate. She has a very personal agenda of her own. She wanted to be able to help clear the damaged reputation of her father’s regiment.

Will Bess Crawford be able to solve this case?

Proof of Guilt: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Ian Rutledge Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Proof of GuiltReviewed by Patricia Reid

When Ian Rutledge is assigned to head up an investigation involving an unidentified body, Rutledge has a difficult job. First, he must identify the body and that does not prove to be an easy task. Second, he must decide if the victim is a murder victim or if he died accidentally. Then once he has reached the conclusion that the victim was murdered Rutledge must discover where he was murdered. Rutledge feels that the victim met his death at a different location and the body was later moved.

Rutledge turns up a clue that leads him to suspect that the victim might have a connection to the firm of House of French, French and Traynor. The firm produces a world famous Madeira wine. Lewis French, the head of the London office, is missing. Rutledge is unable to locate French in London and his sister has no idea where her brother might be.

Matthew Traynor, head of the Portugal side of the wine operation, is expected to arrive in England but the French family has not received any word from Traynor and his office only knows he left Portugal to travel to London.

The Walnut Tree: A Holiday Tale
by Charles Todd

The Walnut Tree Reviewed by Teri Davis

For those people who were born into the upper echelons of the classes in England and Scotland, World War I was more than a war, it was a permanent change in their daily life. With the influences of the suffrage movement and the industrial revolution the lives of everyone were permanently and irrevocably altered. Gone were the days of the great houses with the downstairs staff meeting all the needs and desires of those born into the wealth.

Lady Elspeth, although orphaned, has lived a conventional life of the nobility, even though she is a ward of her uncle until her thirtieth birthday. However, she is given the freedom of an adult woman of class and wealth in her twenties while still having the closeness of her family, her cousins.

Being the year is 1914, Elspeth plans to go to France to assist her longtime close friend, Madeleine Villard with the birth of her first child. Henri, Madeleine’s husband is distracted by the nearby German forces after the assassination of Kaiser Wilhelm as they invade Belgium and begin to occupy parts of France. Also, Elspeth has been attracted to Madeleine’s brother, Alain, for years. Even though he is without a title, he does come from wealth. He gives her his mother’s ruby ring as a promise to ask her uncle for her hand in marriage. As the men become involved in fighting, Elspeth wonders if she should go home.