Monday, May 9, 2016

Review: No Shred of Evidence by Charles Todd

No Shred of Evidence (Inspector Ian Rutledge, Book #18)
by Charles Todd
Release Date: February 16th 2016
2016 William Morrow
Kindle ARC Edition; 357 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062386182
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

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.

My Thoughts
No Shred of Evidence is the eighteenth entry into what is one of my favourite mystery series, starring Inspector Ian Rutledge, a WWI veteran and PTSD (or shell-shock) survivor.  Rutledge's continuing fight to deal with his ghosts from the Battle of the Somme, and the resulting shell shock, is definitely one of the highlights of the series, but I was a bit disappointed to see little of Hamish in this story.  And while I loved the writing style and the character descriptions and development, I do have to admit that the mystery was a bit all over the place in this one, as if the authors couldn't quite figure out which angle the mystery should take. (For those of you unfamiliar with this series, I do use authors on purpose as Charles Todd actually is a pen name for the mother/son writing team of Caroline Todd and Charles Todd.)

First of all, I adore Inspector Rutledge and have really enjoyed how his story has progressed through the books.  In this one, there was a lot of introspection, especially about his past loves, which gives me hope that Rutledge will eventually find the one for him, and it's been a long time coming, almost too long.  He really didn't seem as anxious and troubled in this one which is a bit step forward for someone suffering from shell shock, but I definitely missed Hamish on many an occasion.  The whole idea of ending everything wasn't as prevalent either, expect in a brief moment when he thought about jumping into the river, which made you feel like it was an impulse moment rather than a serious constant thought. For maybe the first time in so many books, I really felt like there was hope for Rutledge, both in his personal life and in his psychological issues.

The cast of characters surrounding Rutledge are always interesting and I look forward to every town, village, and city in which he goes to investigate.  The premise of the story seemed a bit awkward, and I didn't really buy into all that much, but I was willing to go along with it to see where it went.  Four women rowing along the river try to help a man who is about to drown, then later accused of his murder?  Naturally, when Rutledge goes in to investigate, all he meets is resistance from everyone around him; young women who are told not to give any details, wealthy fathers who feel they are above the law, villagers who have secrets, more dead bodies, and so on. The case becomes rather personal however, when Rutledge discovers he knows one of the young women accused of murder and little evidence exists that could exonerate them.  

The plot was a bit murky right from the beginning, and to me, felt like the authors were rather unclear in which direction they wanted to take the mystery.  For the first time in this series, I found the execution to be a bit inept, with too many unimportant / insignificant details.  The actual writing style was good, as always, but I found myself constantly wondering, How was that important? or going Really?  Not a good thing in a mystery.  The pace and the flow were fine, but there were parts that I definitely enjoyed more than others.  

No Shred of Evidence is one of those entries that I think happens in every series.  While the book wasn't boring by any means, I found the mystery to be rather mundane and meandering.  I have really appreciated the previous entries in this series so I was a bit disappointed in this one.  Am I ready to give up on this one though?  No way.  Hopefully the next one will up to its usual standards.