No Shred of Evidence
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery, Book #18
By Charles Todd
Author Website: http://www.charlestodd.com
In this absorbing new entry in the acclaimed bestselling series, Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge is caught up in a twisted web of vengeance and murder
On the north coast of Cornwall, an apparent act of mercy is repaid by an arrest for murder. Four young women have been accused of the crime. A shocked father calls in a favor at the Home Office. Scotland Yard is asked to review the case.
However, Inspector Ian Rutledge is not the first Inspector to reach the village. Following in the shoes of a dead man, he is told the case is all but closed. Even as it takes an unexpected personal turn, Rutledge will require all his skill to deal with the incensed families of the accused, the grieving parents of the victim, and local police eager to see these four women sent to the infamous Bodmin Gaol. Then why hasn’t the killing stopped?
With no shred of evidence to clear the accused, Rutledge must plunge deep into the darkest secrets of a wild, beautiful and dangerous place if he is to find a killer who may-or may not-hold the key to their fate. (Goodreads)
No Shred of Evidence, the eighteenth entry in the long running Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series, is a well written, period rich, satisfying read.
What starts out as a carefree excursion on the water for four friends turns tragic when they come across the local banker’s son struggling to stay above water as his dinghy sinks. Though the girls try their best to bring Harry into their boat, they struggle. A local farmer, seeing the events from the shore, swims to their aid. Unfortunately, Harry is unconscious by the end of the ordeal. The farmer Brad Trevose insists that the girls were trying to kill Harry, and the four are charged with attempted murder and detained by the magistrate, who also happens to be one of the girl’s fathers. Fearing that there will not be a fair investigation by local authorities, Scotland Yard is called in. When the first inspector dies of an apparent heart attack, Inspector Ian Rutledge travels to Cornwall to take his place. He is quite surprised to find that one of the accused is an old friend, a cousin of his for fiance. Rutledge finds it hard to believe that Kate would have any nefarious intentions, but he is unsure about the others accused. When Harry fails to regain consciousness and later dies, Rutledge must do all within his power to uncover the truth.
I have not read all of the Ian Rutledge books, but I had no problem diving right into this one. The story takes place in 1920, and the tempo of the book reflects the slower paced era. It provides a realistic picture of life following WWI and the war’s lingering repercussions. Ian himself still struggles with the effects of the war, and we get a look at the sacrifices to his personal life. It is interesting to see Kate’s reaction to him, and we see a glimpse of what he might have been like before he became haunted (literally?) by the war. I hope we see more of Kate. Ian is a complex character, and I enjoy learning more about him with each book. The four girls accused of the crime are varied in personality and potential motive, and they each add to the many threads that Rutledge must untangle to get to the truth. The motivations of the farmer and the mystery woman add to the intrigue. This is a methodical, slowly unraveled police procedural, and it all makes sense in the end. However, I found the resolution to be wrapped up a little too neatly and rushed, especially considering the pace of the rest of the novel.
As I said, this is a well crafted, well written mystery and a strong addition to the historical mystery genre. I liked it. I recommend it to fans of both of Todd’s series, Anglophiles, and those who enjoy a step back to another age and location.