A Matter of Justice (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #11)
  • A Matter of Justice (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #11)
  • A Matter of Justice (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #11)

A Matter of Justice (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #11)

4.1 29
by Charles Todd

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The superb new entry in the historical series The New York Times Book Review hails as "outstanding" and the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls "superb"

At the turn of the century, in a war taking place far from England, two soldiers chance upon an opportunity that will change their lives forever. To take advantage of it, they will be required to do the

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The superb new entry in the historical series The New York Times Book Review hails as "outstanding" and the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls "superb"

At the turn of the century, in a war taking place far from England, two soldiers chance upon an opportunity that will change their lives forever. To take advantage of it, they will be required to do the unthinkable, and then to put the past behind them. But not all memories are so short.

Twenty years later, a successful London busi-nessman is found savagely and bizarrely murdered in a medieval tithe barn on his estate in Somerset. Called upon to investigate, Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge soon discovers that the victim was universally despised. Even the man's wife—who appears to be his wife in name only—and the town's police inspector are suspect. But who, among the many, hated him enough to kill?

Rutledge tenaciously follows a well-concealed trail reaching back to an act so barbarous and with consequences so devastating that even the innocent are enveloped by the murderous tide of events. As he summons all his skills to break through a wall of silence in time to stem this tide, others are eager to twist the truth for their own ends. When justice takes a malevolent turn, can Rutledge's own career survive?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In the stellar 11th Insp. Ian Rutledge mystery (after 2007's A Pale Horse), Todd (the pseudonym of a mother-son writing team) seamlessly combines a fair-play whodunit with a nuanced look into the heart of darkness in the human soul. During the Boer War, Pvt. Harold Quarles takes advantage of a Boer attack on a British military train to enrich himself. When two decades later his battered corpse is found grotesquely displayed at his country residence in Somerset, Scotland Yard's Ian Rutledge must sift through the plethora of lies, omissions and motives surrounding Quarles, who had become a successful investment adviser in London. Because the victim was almost universally despised in Somerset, Rutledge has no shortage of suspects. The inspector's own inner struggles, stemming from his guilt over his morally questionable actions during WWI, make him a more human and complicated protagonist than most other series sleuths. (Jan.)

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Library Journal

It's 1920, and Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard, still haunted by his experiences on the battlefields of France during the Great War, has been called in to investigate a gruesome murder in the quiet Somerset market town of Cambury. Harold Quarles, successful London businessman and self-styled squire of the manor, seems to have specialized in giving the townspeople reasons for wanting him dead. The roots of the mystery, however, go back decades, to dark deeds and betrayal during the Second Boer War. As he becomes enmeshed in the increasingly complex web of secrets surrounding Quarles and a former business partner, Rutledge, accompanied by the ever-present spirit of Hamish MacLeod, the young corporal he executed during World War I for dereliction of duty, realizes that this may be a case whose solution remains beyond his reach. With its typically intricate plotting, detailed characterizations, and red herrings, this is a compelling addition to the popular Ian Rutledge series; recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ9/1/08.]
—John Harvey

Kirkus Reviews
A loathed village squire comes to a ghastly end. Harold Quarles's body is found suspended in the harness used to waft the Christmas angel over the holiday festivalgoers in Cambury, Somerset. The setup is so garish and outlandish that Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge, sent to investigate, assumes that the killer bore Quarles an exceptional personal hatred. Even given that extreme pattern, there's no shortage of suspects. The man's wife reviled him. So did the village baker and organist, the local copper, Quarles's estate manager and the men whose wives and daughters he had targeted for dalliances. His former business partner, Davis Penrith, had recently dissolved their London partnership for unspecified reasons, and eight men who suffered huge losses under Quarles's Cumberline African investment fiasco had motives for revenge. As in every Todd adventure (A Pale Horse, 2007, etc.), however, the real reasons for his death hearken back to wartime atrocities-this time those of the Boer War 20 years before, when Quarles set in motion his fatal end by covering up his sullied past. The horrific outcome leads to three more deaths on the remote Scilly Isles and yet more malfeasance in Cambury. In many ways a more subdued Todd, with many earmarks of a classic village mystery and less byplay from Hamish, the ghost who haunts Rutledge. But the author manages to slip in yet another antiwar message by tormenting Rutledge with the emotional repercussions of his own battle experiences.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Charles Todd hasn’t made a misstep yet in his elegant series featuring Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge, and A Matter of Justice keeps the streak going.”
Boston Globe
“[A] complex British-style police procedural that explores the intersection of justice and vengeance served up cold. It’s especially recommended for readers who relish P. D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh mysteries.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Literate and wise, A Matter of Justice combines a plot worthy of Christie with characterization reminiscent of [P. D.] James and a profound melancholy that channels [Ruth] Rendell....The discerning reader with find not only intellectual stimulation but also moral enlightenment.”
Wilmington Star News
“The plot is as complicated as any that Agatha Christie contrived, with characters as dark and complex as any of P. D. James’....Just the ticket.”
Mystery News
“A compelling book, as Charles Todd’s books always are. It seizes the reader’s interest at the very first page and keeps it until the end.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“What has distinguished the Rutledge series from other historical crime fiction is that it often transcends the whodunit formula with its concerns about the morality of war and the terrible toll it took on the British nation.”
“Smoothly constructed.”
Sullivan County Democrat
“Complicated, thoughtful, atmospheric historical mysteries of small-town England, as richly flavored as Guinness Stout.”
Crime Spree magazine
“Another triumph...This is a historical mystery that should be used as a guide on how to do it right. Intriguing and complex, this is a superbly rich novel and a real treat for mystery fans.”
South Florida Sun Sentinel
“A sharp look at a country recovering from the devastation of war. Although it is set in the early 20th century, Todd’s novels are timeless.”
Winston-Salem Journal
“Few people writing today are as deft as Todd at creating historical fiction....A Matter of Justice is an intricately plotted mystery dealing with the lingering effects of yet another war.”
New York Times Book Review
“There’s no end to war in Charles Todd’s unnervingly beautiful historical novels....Here the mother and son who write under the name Charles Todd get it all right.”
Romantic Times
“A wonderfully plotted mystery will keep you engrossed and guessing right up to the end....This terrific read will please longtime fans and those new to the series.”
Charlotte Observer
“This series makes the anguish of the First World War and its scarred veterans as fresh as our own. Lovers of the British cozy will enjoy the range of settings, from cottage gardens to the remote Scilly Isles to fine country estates.”
Wilmington Star News (NC)
"The plot is as complicated as any that Agatha Christie contrived, with characters as dark and complex as any of P. D. James’....Just the ticket."
Crime Spree Magazine
"Another triumph...This is a historical mystery that should be used as a guide on how to do it right. Intriguing and complex, this is a superbly rich novel and a real treat for mystery fans."

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Inspector Ian Rutledge Series, #11
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.99(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Matter of Justice

Chapter One

The Scilly Isles

May 1920

Ronald Evering was in his study, watching a mechanical toy bank go through its motions, when the idea first came to him.

The bank had been a gift from a friend who knew he collected such things. It had been sent over from America, and with it in a small pouch were American pennies with which to feed the new acquisition, because they fit the coin slot better than the English penny.

A painted cast-iron figure of a fat man sat in a chair, his belly spreading his brown coat so that his yellow waistcoat showed, and one hand was stretched out to receive his bribe from political figures and ordinary citizens seeking his favor. His name was "Boss" Tweed, and he had controlled political patronage in New York City in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Through an alliance between Tammany Hall and the Democratic Party, graft had been his stock-in-trade. Now his image was encouraging children to be thrifty. A penny saved . . .

The note accompanying the gift had ended, "Look on this as a swindler of sorts for the swindled, my dear Ronald, and take your revenge by filling his belly full of pennies, in time to recoup your pounds. . . ."

He hadn't particularly cared for the tone of the note, and had burned it.

Still, the bank was a clever addition to his collection.

It had been a mistake to confide in anyone, and the only reason he'd done it was to vent his rage at his own impotence. Even then he hadn't told his friend the whole truth: that he'd invested those pounds in order to look murderers in the face, to see, if such a thing existed, what it was thatmade a man a killer. In the end all he'd achieved was to make himself known to two -people who had no qualms about deliberately cheating him. The explanation was simple...they wanted no part of him, and losing his money was the simplest way to get rid of him without any fuss. He hadn't foreseen it, and it had become a personal affront.

He had sensed the subtle change in the air when he'd first given his name, and cursed himself for not using his mother's maiden name instead. But the damage was done, and he'd been afraid to let them see what he suspected.

Yet it had shown him...even though he couldn't prove it...that he'd been right about them. What he didn't know was what to do with that knowledge.

Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord . . . But the Lord had been remarkably slow exacting it. If anything, these two men had prospered.

And he had had no experience of vengeance.

There was only his mother, crying in his father's arms, this quiet, unassuming woman fiercely demanding that whoever had killed her dear boy be punished. A ten-year-old, listening from the shadows of the stairs, shocked and heartbroken, had endured nightmares about that moment for years afterward. And it was his mother's prodding after his father's death that had sent him to Cape Town in 1911, to bring her dear boy home from his South African grave.

"Your father couldn't do it. But you must," she'd urged him time and again. "It's your duty to Timothy, to me, to the family. Bring him home, let him lie beside your father in the churchyard, where he belongs. Find a way, if you love me, and let me see him resting there before I die!"

Trying to shake off the memory, Evering took another penny from the pouch and placed it in Boss Tweed's outstretched hand.

Almost quicker than the eye could follow, the hand slid the penny into the waistcoat pocket as Boss Tweed's head moved to nod his thanks.

The man smiled. It was no wonder he preferred these toys to -people. He had come home from Cape Town with his brother's body, after two years of forms and long hours in hot, dusty offices in search of the proper signatures. What he hadn't bargained for was the information he'd collected along the way. Information he had never told his mother, but which had been a burden on his soul ever since. Almost ten years now. Because, like Hamlet, he couldn't make up his mind what to do about what he knew.

Well, to be fair, not ten years of single-minded effort.

The Great War had begun the year after his return from South Africa, while he was still trying to discover what had become of those two men after they left the army. It wasn't his fault that he'd been stationed in India, far from home. But that had turned out to be a lucky break, for he discovered quite by accident where they were and what they were doing. In early 1918 he'd been shipped back to London suffering from the bloody flux, almost grateful for that because he was able at last to look into the information he'd come by in Poona.

Only he'd misjudged his quarries and made a fool of himself.

It wouldn't do to brood on events again. That way lay madness.

On the shelves behind him was an array of mechanical and clockwork toys, many of them for adults, like the golden bird that rose from an enameled snuffbox to sing like a nightingale.

Banks were a particularly fine subject for such mechanical marvels. A penny tip to the owner sent a performing dog through a hoop. In another example, a grinning bear disappeared down a tree stump as the hunter lifted his rifle to fire. Humor and clever design had gone into the creation of each toy. The shifting weight of the penny set the device concealed in the base into motion, making the action appear to be magical.

He had always found such devices fascinating, even after he'd worked out the mechanism that propelled them. His mind grasped the designer's plan very quickly, and sometimes he had bettered it in devices of his own. Skill calling to skill. He took quiet pride in that.

A Matter of Justice. Copyright © by Charles Todd. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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