Book Review: A Test of Wills, An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd

A Test of Wills is the first book in the inspector Ian Rutledge series. The hardcover was published 1996, the paperback in 1998. Ian Rutledge is a veteran of World War I. He was an inspector with Scotland Yard before the war and has since rejoined the force. He is unmarried, has one sister named Frances. He suffers from claustrophobia, sleepless nights, nightmares, and anxiety in social situations. I am currently reading Search in the Dark and it is the third book in the Rutledge series. Each book reveals a little more about Rutledge the man, the inspector, and his PTSD issues since the war. He is a character that I admire, because of his tenacity and perseverance. He seems to come across as a calm and reserved person. Yet, in his mind he is fighting his own adversity. He is a dimensional character, this makes him believable, real. He is a character that I can easily imagine being flesh and bone. I can picture him tipping his hat to me, with his low-key quiet persona.
I am new to reading mystery books. Charles Todd's books have made an smooth place for me, to drop anchor.

 A Test of Wills begins in 1919 with a gruesome murder of a man who had been a Colonel in World War I. He was riding his horse near his estate in England when he was shot in the head with a shotgun. One of the first people to be interviewed by Rutledge is Lettice Wood, the deceased man's ward. Lettice is a young statuesque beauty. Her fiance is Captain Wilton. Captain Wilton and the Colonel had argued the evening before and Captain Wilton is considered a suspect. Throughout most of the book, both the motive and the murderer is a mystery. During the beginning of the investigation, another PTSD Veteran of World War I is considered to be the murderer. Rutledge is reminded of his own issue of PTSD and memories of the war, and he has empathy. 

I love Charles Todd mystery books.
I was swept away with the first sentence.
I appreciate there being no romantic entanglement that would take away from solving the crime.
I love the character Ian Rutledge he is likable, admirable, resilient, believable.
I love it that during the story the author brought in a comical scene; amongst the solving of a gruesome murder, a petulant guard goose is loose.   

In each of the Ian Rutledge series, inspector Rutledge is faced with his own issue of PTSD.
I believe the author has written accurately about PTSD's affects on a veteran.
My son has PTSD. During our current time there are many veteran's who are suffering from PTSD. In World War I it was called Shell-Shock. There were no counselor's, books, and support groups that could help a veteran with PTSD. These options are available now, but not as accessible in the Veteran Administration Hospitals. Often, a veteran must pay out of pocket for help in order to use a civilian physician or counselor. A veteran must research options. Health care at the VA is free, but it is too easy for a physician at a Veteran Administration Hospital, to write a prescription for a anti-depressant. We have a long way to go before the government can honestly state they have done "all" for our veteran's.
There is a counseling organization called Operation Home Front.
A combat veteran with a heart for other veterans has written a book and shares his story:

Originally published by St. Martin's Press in 1996
Bantam published the trade paperback in 1998 (my copy)
329 pages
Mystery/England/Post World War I/PTSD/War Through The Generations Challenge

Link for book @ Barnes and Nobles:
Can be bought used for as little at 1 cent.
Nook $9.99


  1. Your review will be featured on War Through the Generations on Aug. 15. Thanks for participating in the challenge!


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