I discovered Charles Todd when the first of his Bess Crawford series, A Duty to the Dead, which takes place during WWI, was released. Test of Wills, the first of the Ian Rutledge series starts just after the war’s end. Rutledge has returned to his position as an inspector with Scotland Yard, but much changed by his experiences in the trenches. Suffering from what would now be diagnosed as severe PTSD, he hears the voice of dead Corporal Hamish MacLeod, whom he was forced to order executed for refusing to lead another attack on the German lines. His superior, Chief Superintendent Bowles, hates and fears Rutledge for his education, social status, and his uncanny ability to ferret out solutions to murders no one else can solve. Bowles doesn’t know how vulnerable Rutledge has become but senses something and is hoping to exploit whatever it is to either cause the Yard to let Rutledge go or drive him out.
Bowles sends Rutledge to handle the extremely sensitive murder of a much-loved land owner and retired Colonel possibly by his ward’s fiancé, a former Captain in the RAF, highly decorated and close to the royal family. There appear to be no good solutions as he struggles to resurrect the skills he took for granted before the war, solve the murder, and not set off a personal and political fire storm.
Todd shows great skill in developing a baffling mystery, creating a believable setting, and drawing characters that are multi-dimensional. I’ve already checked out the second Ian Rutledge mystery!