"Proof of Guilt" by Charles Todd was released in hardcover on January 29, 2013. (Photo : HarperCollins Publishing)
Charles Todd's latest Ian Rutledge mystery novel, Proof of Guilt, combines the perfect mix of drama, intrigue and crime to bring readers right into 1920s London.
The novel, which is one of 15 in Todd's Rutledge mystery series, follows Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge as he investigates the inexplicable disappearance of wine firm owner Lewis French and his connection to an abandoned body in the posh neighborhood of Chelsea.
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Going off a gold watch heirloom found on the body, Rutledge slowly uncovers the truth behind French's family, as well as that of his wine enterprise partner Matthew Traynor's. During his investigation in French's hometown of Dedham, Rutledge meets French's plain-Jane sister who is forced to live in the family's country home, his former fiancé Miss Whitmore and new fiancé Miss Townsend.
Todd uses meticulous details to create a vivid image of the people Rutledge encounters and his surroundings. Readers are transported throughout southern England, with Todd pulling the readers right into the middle of the action. Page by page, each character reveals their many layers, giving the readers plenty of reason to assume they are involved in French's disappearance.
Adding another interesting layer to the unfolding murder is Rutledge's recurring PTSD from the Great War, which causes him claustrophobia, among other things. The inspector's war wound, while invisible to others, very much dominates how he conducts his investigations.
Despite this, Proof of Guilt falls short of being the truly captivating mystery that it had the potential to be. Rutledge's incessant Scottish ghost Hamish proves to be less of a guiding light and more of an unintelligible annoyance. Rutledge conveniently hears Hamish after making an interesting case discoveries, with Hamish making an accent-heavy comment that could only be appreciated in spoken form.
While Proof of Guilt is no Sherlock Holmes murder mystery, it is definitely worth a read.
Charles Todd's Proof of Guilt is now available in hardcover.