Proof of Guilt (Inspector Ian Rutledge, Book #15)
by Charles Todd
Release Date: January 29th, 2012
2012 William Morrow
Ebook Edition; 352 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Murder
Source: Review copy from publisher / Partners in Crime Tours
3.5 / 5 Stars
An unidentified body
appears to have been run down by a motorcar and Ian Rutledge is leading
the investigation to uncover what happened. While signs point to murder,
vital questions remain. Who is the victim? And where, exactly, was he
One small clue leads the Inspector to a firm built by
two families, famous for producing and selling the world's best Madeira
wine. Lewis French, the current head of the English enterprise is
missing. But is he the dead man? And do either his fiancée or his jilted
former lover have anything to do with his disappearance-or possible
death? What about his sister? Or the London office clerk? Is Matthew
Traynor, French's cousin and partner who heads the Madeira office,
The experienced Rutledge knows that suspicion
and circumstantial evidence are not proof of guilt, and he's going to
keep digging for answers. But that perseverance will pit him against his
supervisor, the new Acting Chief Superintendent. When Rutledge
discovers a link to an incident in the family's past, the superintendent
dismisses it, claiming the information isn't vital. He's determined to
place blame on one of French's women despite Rutledge's objections.
Alone in a no man's land rife with mystery and danger, Rutledge must
tread very carefully, for someone has decided that he, too, must die so
that cruel justice can take its course.
Proof of Guilt is the fifteenth novel in a series of quite pleasant murder mysteries featuring the amiable Inspector Ian Rutledge. There are not too many series out there where I try to keep up with the current new release and this series definitely has the honour of being one of those I tend to read as soon as the new release comes out. I'm not really sure what has captured my attention about these novels, but perhaps it is Rutledge himself, with his steadfast ways, yet I always seem to sense an undercurrent of something else I am looking forward to seeing released one day. That is hasn't quite happened yet is fine, I am willing to wait.
Rutledge is now faced with a new superior officer, Chief Superintendent Markham, as Inspector Bowles has been temporarily removed from the position. Unsure whether he will be a better boss than Bowles, there have been indications that Markham feels the pressure to solve cases quickly rather than to really see the crux of the matter at hand. At the same time, Rutledge is uneasy in his presence as Markham seems to have a sharp eye and can see right through people and their motives. Now why should this make Rutledge somewhat uneasy? Rutledge is hiding a big secret and the last person he wants to discover that secret is Markham as it could cost him his job, the one thing that is holding him together. Intrigued? That secret is one of the things I really enjoy about this series and the turmoil that Rutledge goes through each and every day, first trying to keep himself sane, and two, trying to make sure no one finds out what is happening, is an interesting storyline. As someone who is ruthless, aggressive, and determined, it is his one great weakness, although I don't of it as such, and to see such a man struggle is quite interesting from a psychological perspective.
One of the things I had difficulty with in this novel is why Rutledge would be sent out to investigate a routine hit and run accident, even if turns out to be murder. It seemed to me as something the local constabulary would normally deal with and some of the mundane things that Rutledge did during the investigation did not necessarily ring true in this novel. It's not that I didn't enjoy the detective work, as in all Todd novels you have to pay attention to every detail or you will miss something important, but I found it odd that someone at his level would be doing some of the leg work himself. He is a Detective Inspector for Scotland Yard so it did seem strange, after all. And I had to pay particular attention to the history of the family being investigation, a couple of times actually re-reading the paragraphs just to make sure I got it right. It was somewhat confusing as to who was who and who was related to who, and who was it who had the affair again? Oh, yeah, that one. Maybe I was tired from marking exams, and it could have played a role, so I'll be interested in reading other reviews to see if that was a problem for anyone else.
Proof of Guilt is an interesting addition to the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. It definitely wasn't my favourite one of the series, but I enjoyed it and as always, the writing was fluid, with that understated flow of information and evidence that I've come to admire from these authors. If you are new to the series, I don't recommend beginning with this one, but actually reading them from the beginning. As for this one, I don't feel like all of the ends were tied up at the end and I was left feeling a bit disappointed in that sense. However, hopefully some of these threads will be picked up in the sixteenth novel, and that is one I will definitely be reading.
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