Monday, January 12, 2015

A Fine Summer's Day by Charles Todd

War is on the horizon but for Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard it's business as usual. Almost. The Inspector has just proposed and is experiencing the early days of wedding parties and planning in addition to his work for the Yard. 

Rutledge is called to investigate a number of odd cases - all of them in different villages throughout England and none of them seemingly connected. Or at least not at first. In each case a man has died under mysterious circumstances. The men vary in age and background but they all have one thing in common: it seems each death can be blamed on a laudanum laced glass of milk. In spite of his superior's opinion, Rutledge is set on discovering the connection between these cases, certain that once he finds it he'll be able to solve them all. But pressure for swift closure and growing concern over his family obligations cause Rutledge to doubt his chosen path.  

I loved this book! And for more than one reason. The primary reason is that it serves as something of a fresh start for readers like me who haven't been with the series from the very beginning. A Fine Summer's Day takes readers back to the start of WWI and a Rutledge so far free of the scars of that battle. (Undoubtedly a welcome look back to this early Rutledge for fans of the series as well!)

This Rutledge is still introspective, but his concerns here are with regards to his fiancĂ©, his future family, and his obligations towards his sister. He finds himself becoming concerned that policing - a job that is causing him to be away quite a bit of late - might have been a selfish choice. His frustrations lie in being unable to be there for his sister (who is still struggling with the death of their parents) and with his boss who is so unimaginative (as one character puts it) that he seemingly can't see what Rutledge sees in his cases. War is on the midst but still so far beyond Rutledge's reality that it hasn't yet really dawned on him to be a concern at all. 

My second reason for loving this book is the care and attention to detail - something I've noticed in each of the Charles Todd titles I've read so far. Characters are incredibly well drawn, the plot is tight and complex, and the setting is well established and supported by both grand and subtle elements alike. With A Fine Summer's Day, the authors succeed fully in immersing the reader in pre-WWI England and in Ian Rutledge's early life. 

If you're looking to start a new series and can't get enough of WWI-era England, I suggest snatching this one up ASAP!

As a bonus, if you're in the Denver area the mother and son team that are Charles Todd will be at the Colfax Avenue Tattered Cover this Wednesday, January 14! Event dets can be found here


Kay said...

I have meant to start this series many times, as well as their other one about Bess. Sigh. Too many series. Perhaps this would be the book to start with and then go back?

I've missed reading your reviews. Looking forward to being around again to comment.

Becky LeJeune said...

It would be the perfect place to start, Kay! I do very much enjoy the Bess Crawford books, too. The one I've read in that series was a little easier to slip into without having read the earlier installments than the mid series Ian Rutledge book I read around the same time.