The Confession: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd (William Morrow, $25.99, 344 pages)
His voice was hoarse, but still recognizable. “Damn it, Morrison, there’s nothing to confess. I just need to talk to someone.”
In The Confession, the mother and son writing team known as Charles Todd delivers the 14th episode in the evolution of Inspector Ian Rutledge, the well-respected Scotland Yard detective. Rutledge is continuing to transition from a World War I shell-shocked soldier back into his civilian life. Understandably, such a process is open-ended. To make matters more complicated, Rutledge has the ghost of a fallen comrade lodged in his subconscious. From time to time this fellow enters his current thought process with unsolicited advice and observations.
The presenting case involves an unsolicited confession to a murder; however, proving the confessor’s guilt or innocence proves to be a challenge that even Rutledge finds a bit overwhelming. The plot becomes a bit crowded with confusing names and relationships. Adding to the confusion are the many trips Rutledge makes between London and a small seaside village in Essex. The characters are not who you think they are – a reasonable device considering this is a mystery.
Regardless of the red herrings, multitudes of characters and the era when the tale takes place, the basic theme ties to the presence of evil which knows no time limit. Evil is contrasted sharply with the values Rutledge holds sacred and dear. Along the way the reader experiences the overwhelming impact of group mentality and shared secrets.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. “Todd serves up plenty of period detail and plot twists, but the real attraction here is Rutledge, a shrewd, dedicated detective grappling with the demons of his past.” Booklist