Morning, all! I'm a stop today on the TLC blog tour for Charles Todd's latest Ian Rutledge mystery Proof of Guilt.
When the body of an unidentified man is discovered in Chelsea, Ian Rutledge is sent from Scotland Yard to investigate. The man appeared to have been hit by a car and, based on evidence on is clothing, dragged for a distance. Strangely, there are no tracks evident on the road itself and no one saw or heard anything in the neighborhood. What's more, the only identifying item found on the body is an expensive looking watch that's eventually traced to a prominent family of wine merchants. Only two of its kind were made and both were given to members of the merchant family, brothers Michael and Lewis French, but Michael was killed in the war. Certain they've identified the victim, Rutledge retrieves the man's sister for official identification. Unfortunately for Rutledge, the sister claims she has no idea who the man is and now her brother and his vehicle appear to be missing. Now Rutledge is faced with a growing number of questions and no clear answers to any of them.
After my introduction to the Bess Crawford series with An Unmarked Grave I was definitely ready to try my hand at Todd's other series. Like Grave I found Proof of Guilt to be equally easy to dive into regardless of not having read the prior installments. The plotting is smart and Rutledge, like Bess, is a great lead. Unlike Bess, however, I did feel that I was missing out a bit in not knowing Rutledge's background. He's a man with a guilty conscience, for one -- he talks to a dead Scottish soldier in his head! So while the individual story stands fine on its own, Rutledge remains a bit of a mystery himself for this first time reader of the series.
I found the layering of the mystery to be particularly intriguing and appealing in Proof of Guilt. As Rutledge investigates further, more and more questions appear. Each avenue of inquiry results in further possibilities but no eliminating or revealing of suspects or motives. And Rutledge is constricted by the laws and politics of Scotland Yard, which makes things that much more difficult. In fact, at one point his boss is ready to bring in a suspect Rutledge instinctually feels is innocent but having seemingly exhausted all his ideas, he's unsure what to do next.
Well, the mother and son team have officially made me a fan of yet another of their series -- meaning I'll have to go back and read from the beginning of this series now as well :)
The Rutledge books, in order, are as follows:
A Test of Wills
Wings of Fire
Search the Dark
Watchers of Time
Legacy of the Dead
A Fearsome Doubt
A Cold Treachery
A Long Shadow
A False Mirror
A Pale Horse
A Matter of Justice
The Red Door
A Lonely Death
Proof of Guilt
To see more stops on the tour visit the official TLC tour page here.
For more on Charles Todd and the Rutledge and Bess Crawford series, visit the official author site here. You can also like them on Facebook.