The Confession by Charles Todd

The Confession by Charles Todd is the 14th book in the Ian Rutledge mystery series, which usually pertain to The Great War or WWI.  In this book, Rutledge hears the confession of an aging and dying man in 1920 about a murder he committed during the war.  When the body of the man who confesses to murder is found in the Thames, Rutledge’s informal inquiry into the alleged murder is kicked up a notch and has him traveling between London and Essex.  The man had given him a name, which turns out to be false, and the mystery of how this man knows whom he’s accused becomes a mystery in itself.

While set after the war, it is clear that the battles have impacted Rutledge, and many of the men and families he encounters in the book as he unravels the murder mystery.  Todd’s mystery resembles that of Sherlock Holmes, though Rutledge’s Watson is Hamish who died in the war.  Deductions are made carefully from a series of innocuous events and statements from witness, neighbors, and others as Rutledge attempts to trace the heritage of the Russell family in Furnham.  And of course, there are some red herrings.

“The body rolled in the current gently, as if still alive.  It was face down, only the back and hips visible.  It had been floating that way for some time.  The men in the ancient skiff had watched it for a quarter of an hour, as if half expecting it to rise up and walk away before their eyes.”  (Page 1)

Todd’s WWI mystery is set two years after the end of the war, but WWI’s presence is still felt, especially in remote Furnham where the residents like to be left to themselves and don’t take too kindly to outsiders, especially the authorities.  The town felt the presence of the British military keenly when they took over a local farm to build an airfield for fighters and to keep an eye on potential invasion forces.  Shell shock is just one aspect of the war mentioned and show throughout the book, but there also are moments where trench foot is discussed as well as the societal impacts of the war on those families left behind by enlisted brothers, fathers, and lovers.

The Confession by Charles Todd is a compelling historical mystery set just after WWI that will have readers turning the pages eager to see how Rutledge battles his own ghosts while chasing those of the Russell family to solve a number of mysterious deaths and murders.  While part of a series, it can be read as a standalone mystery novel, but readers will be eager to pick up the other books in the series.


About the Author (from the Website):

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother and son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.

Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great uncle who served as a flyer in WWI aroused an early interest in the Great War.

This is my 3rd book for the WWI Reading Challenge.  Also if you participated in the War Through the Generations Civil War Reading Challenge, don’t forget to enter the giveaway.  It ends tomorrow, Jan. 31, 2012.



This is my 5th book for the 2012 New Authors Challenge.


  1. Doesn’t sound half bad, I have to check out these books soon 🙂 Thanks for the review, Serena!

  2. I’ve been wanting to try one of these books!

    • Staci, you should. If you like mysteries that are similar to the Arthur Conan Doyle series of books, these are similar but more modern language and a WWI-like setting.

  3. I’ve never heard of this series. Good to know that it can be read as a standalone book.

  4. Todd’s long been on my list to try someday, but since I hate picking up a series in the middle, I’ve put off starting this one. Still, they’re popular and seem to be pretty good so I should give them a try!

  5. I like them but I’m not sure how I feel about Hamish. I think I would like it better if he were not so corporeal!

    • I’ve only read this one book, so Hamish was not too much of an issue for me. But I think after 14 books that maybe Hamish should play less of a role?!


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