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The Confession (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #14)
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The Confession (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series #14)

4.4 24
by Charles Todd

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Scotland Yard’s best detective, Inspector Ian Rutledge, must solve a dangerous case that reaches far into the past in this superb mystery in the acclaimed series

Declaring he needs to clear his conscience, a dying man walks into Scotland Yard and confesses that he killed his cousin five years earlier during the Great War. When Inspector Ian Rutledge


Scotland Yard’s best detective, Inspector Ian Rutledge, must solve a dangerous case that reaches far into the past in this superb mystery in the acclaimed series

Declaring he needs to clear his conscience, a dying man walks into Scotland Yard and confesses that he killed his cousin five years earlier during the Great War. When Inspector Ian Rutledge presses for details, the man evades his questions, revealing only that he hails from a village east of London. With little information and no body to open an official inquiry, Rutledge begins to look into the case on his own.

Less than two weeks later, the alleged killer’s body is found floating in the Thames, a bullet in the back of his head. Searching for answers, Rutledge discovers that the dead man was not who he claimed to be. What was his real name—and who put a bullet in his head? Were the “confession” and his own death related? Or was there something else in the victim’s past that led to his murder?

The inspector’s only clue is a gold locket, found around the dead man’s neck, that leads back to Essex and an insular village whose occupants will do anything to protect themselves from notoriety. For notoriety brings the curious, and with the curious come change and an unwelcome spotlight on a centuries-old act of evil that even now can damn them all.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1920, Todd’s excellent 14th mystery featuring Insp. Ian Rutledge (after 2011’s A Lonely Death) offers an intriguing setup. When Wyatt Russell shows up at Scotland Yard and confesses to murdering a cousin, Justin Fowler, five year earlier, Rutledge is unwilling to accept the story at face value, especially since Russell refuses to explain why he killed Fowler. Russell, who’s dying of cancer, agrees to lunch with the inspector in London, but divulges little more. Rutledge travels to a remote corner of Essex to pursue the few leads Russell provides, but receives an extremely hostile reception from the locals. The cold case takes an even stranger turn after Russell suffers a fatal gunshot wound to the back of his head. The plot convolutions compel, but the book’s main strength is its remarkable lead, who has survived the trench warfare of WWI and remains haunted by what the exigencies of the battlefield forced him to do. Agent: Jane Chelius. (Jan.)
Charlotte Observer on A Lonely Death
“A strong entry in a strong series.”
Booklist on A Lonely Death
“Another engaging entry in a fine series.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch on A Lonely Death
“Todd invests this absorbing fiction with creative storytelling (including intriguing subplots), memorable characters and graceful, seemingly effortless prose….This is fiction that moves, entertains, and as always, underscores life’s victories over death.”
“Another engaging entry in a fine series.”
Charlotte Observer
“A strong entry in a strong series.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Todd invests this absorbing fiction with creative storytelling (including intriguing subplots), memorable characters and graceful, seemingly effortless prose….This is fiction that moves, entertains, and as always, underscores life’s victories over death.”
Kirkus Reviews
A confession presents more questions than it answers. Inspector Ian Rutledge (A Lonely Death, 2011, etc.) listens attentively to the Scotland Yard walk-in who says that his name is Wyatt Russell, that he's dying of cancer and that he murdered his cousin Justin Fowler in 1915 and is admitting it now, five years later, so that he can rest in peace. Wondering if his tale is true, Rutledge heads for the man's home at River's Edge, near Furnham in the Essex marshes, and encounters extremely unfriendly villagers anxious to send him on his way. Two weeks later, when the man's body washes up in the Thames with a bullet in the back of the head, Rutledge's queries become more serious. He discovers that the victim was not who he claimed to be, though a clue to his real identity may lie in the picture in the locket around his neck. Questions about that picture lead to birth and death notices at Somerset House and the disturbing knowledge that Mrs. Russell, once the matriarch of the deserted River's Edge house, upped and disappeared one day. Suicide? Or something more sinister? Cynthia Farraday, who seems to have attracted all the males on the estate, appears. So does the real Wyatt Russell, just in time to be assailed. Who then was the confessor? Rutledge won't settle matters until he unravels a long-ago double homicide and delves into the mysterious enmity of the River's Edge residents. Rutledge, still consumed with his own war memories, seems headed for a fierce emotional collapse this time out. One fervently hopes the Todd writing partnership can offer him solace in the next go-round.
Maureen Corrigan
Even given Todd's superlative track record, The Confession is a standout…[it] carries forward some of the best elements of the British Golden Age mysteries and proves that there's life in the old formula yet.
—The Washington Post
Entertainment Weekly
“Todd once and for all establishes the shell-shocked Rutledge as the genre’s most complex and fascinating detective.”
New York Times Book Review on The Confession
“There’s both a pattern and a purpose to the superb historical mysteries produced by mother-and-son writing partners known as Charles Todd.”
Booklist on The Confession
“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.”
Romantic Times on The Confession
“Todd’s masterful storytelling skills shine.”
New York Journal of Books on The Confession
“As with any good mystery, the tension ramps up as the story progresses, pulling more and more characters into the fray, weaving three murders flawlessly into a tight tale. Mr. Todd’s characterization is his strength.”
Suspense Magazine on The Confession
“Another excellent Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery....You follow a twisting road when you read this book. You won’t soon forget your trip to Furnham and the people who may not be who they seem to be.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Inspector Ian Rutledge Series , #14
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Confession

By Charles Todd

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2012 Charles Todd
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-201567-9



The Essex Marshes, Summer 1915

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.

"He's dead, right enough," one said. "One of ours, do you think?" "This far up the Hawking? It's a German spy," the second man said, nodding, as if that explained everything. "Bound to be. I say, leave him to the fish."

"We won't know who he is until we pull him out, will we?" the third said and leaned out to touch the corpse with the boat hook.

"Here!" the first man cried out, as if this were sacrilege.

The body bobbed a little under the weight of the hook.

"He doesn't care," the third man said. "Why should you?"

"Still and all -"

Turning the hook a little, he put the end under the dead man's collar and pulled. Under the impetus of the hook, the corpse came out of the reeds obediently, as if called, and floated toward the skiff until the shoulder of his dark, water sodden uniform bumped lightly into the hull.

"A bloody officer."

"He's been shot," the third man said as the body shifted. "Look at that."

"Turn him over," the second man ordered, after peering at the back of the man's head.

With some difficulty, that was done, and all three stared into the dead face, flaccid from hours in the water.

"None of our fishermen," the second man went on. "Don't know him at all. You?"

The first man shook his head. "I dunno. There's something familiar about him. I just can't put a name to him."

"Let's have a look," the third man said, and reached out to clutch the front of the sodden uniform, pulling him close enough to thrust his fingers into the man's breast pocket. He came away with a wallet stuffed with pound notes. He whistled in surprise.

The second man was already stretching out a hand for the trouser pocket nearest him, swearing as the skiff dipped alarmingly, and he had to kneel in the bottom of the boat. As the skiff steadied, he managed to dig into the wet cloth and extract more pound notes.

"I'll be damned!"

Opening the wallet, the third man searched for identification. "Ah." He pulled out a card from behind the wet notes. Squinting a little, he read, " 'Justin Fowler. London.' What's he doing here, dead, then?"

"I told you. A German spy."

"You've got spies on the brain," the third man snapped. "Get over it."

There had been a spy scare not long before. Several waiters in London restaurants bore German names, and it was reported to the authorities that these men had been listening to private conversations while guests dined, looking for information to be sent back to Berlin. Nothing had come of it, as far as anyone in this part of Essex could discover. Mr. Newly had not been back to the city to visit his daughter, and thus the source of this bit of news had dried up before the spies had been arrested, shot, or deported, allowing for considerable speculation in The Rowing Boat at night. Much had been said about what should be done with such men if they were caught out here, far from London. "Who do you suppose killed him?" the first man ventured. "Someone who followed him from London? It's not likely to have been anyone from the airfield. I've never seen them this far upriver."

"Most likely whoever shot him shoved him into the water. Out of sight, out of mind." The third man counted the wet notes a second time. "There's almost a hundred pounds here!"

"Flotsam and jetsam," the second man said. "We found it, we keep it. Like a shipwreck." He gazed round at the desolate sweep of water and marsh and gray sky as if half expecting to see a ship's hull half sunk in the deeper reaches beyond.

It was an unfortunate reference. They knew, all of them, what a shipwreck could lead to.

"What do we do with Mr. Fowler?" the first man asked dubiously. "If we bring him in, we'll have to summon the police. Someone is bound to want to know what's become of his money."

"Tow him out to sea. Let him wash ashore somewhere else," the third man said, scrabbling in the bottom of the skiff for a length of rope. This he proceeded to loop around the dead man's neck and then he ordered, "Pick up yon oars. I can't row and pull at the same time, now can I?"

The first man sat where he was. "We're towing him nowhere until there's some understanding here. The money is evenly divided."

"I saw him first," the second man ventured. "Finder's fee."

"The hell with that," the third man retorted. "Share and share alike, I say. And then there's no room for one of us to feel denied and start trouble. We're all in this together. If one must hang, we'll all hang." "If I walk home today with this much money in my pocket, my wife will ask questions. What do I say, then?" the first man demanded.

"She'll start the trouble, mark my words."

"Then don't march home with the money stuffed in your pocket, you fool. Put it by and use it a little at a time. You don't go waving it about first thing. Think of your old age, or your daughter's wedding, when a bit of the ready will come in handy. This poor devil doesn't need pounds wherever he's gone to, and it's a sheer waste to let the sea have it. We've done nothing wrong, have we? We didn't kill him, we didn't leave him here to be found by a schoolboy looking to fish for his dinner, we just took what he'd got no use for. Simple as that."

Half persuaded, the first man said, "Still, I've never kept a secret from my wife. That'll take some doing." He picked up his oar from the bottom of the skiff and put it in the water.

The third man laughed. "You've never needed to lie before. Now there's a reason."

They began to pull against the incoming tide, heading for the mouth of the inlet, towing the body behind them. The first man scanned the shoreline as they passed.

"I don't see anyone about, looking this way. Do you think they can see what's at the end of the rope?"

"It just appears that we've forgot to bring the rope inboard."

"What if he comes back again?" the first man asked, glancing over his shoulder. He was finding it a struggle to row against the current with that sluggish weight pulling at the rope attached to it.

"He won't," the third man promised. "He hasn't been in the water all that long. You can tell, the fishes haven't truly got at him yet. But they will. And no one will be the wiser."

But there he was wrong.

Excerpted from The Confession by Charles Todd. Copyright © 2012 by Charles Todd. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and one stand-alone novel. A mother-and-son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina.

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The Confession (Inspector Ian Rutledge Series) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
karenwalksthedogs More than 1 year ago
What a pleasure to meet up with Inspector Ian Rutladge once again. A dying man comes into the yard in order to confess to a murder that took place during the war, refuses to give more information, and is then murdered. Who would murder a dying man? Who exactly was the dying man and why did he conceal his identity? Who did he murder? The quest to find the answers to these questions takes Inspector Rutledge from London to a insular village with lots of secrets to hide, an abandon house on the marsh, and several unexplained deaths. Inspector Rutledge deals with a big shake up at the yard and also with his sister and his lack of personal life. Interestingly, although Hamish does appear, I do not believe it is quite as frequently as in past books. Is Inspector Rutledge maybe beginning to cope with his war expriences? The mystery in this story is a good one and it is very hard to sort out victims, villains, and those who are perhapse a bit of both. I love Inspector Rutledge and look forward to his next adventure.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
This latest in the long-running Inspector Ian Rutledge series finds him in his office shortly after the end of World War I listening to a man calling himself Wyatt Russell confess to murdering his cousin years before.. The man tells Rutledge he has stomach cancer and just a very short time to live but wanted to “clear his conscience.” Little did he know that he would be shot in the head and left in the Thames in just a matter of days. Now the Inspector has more than one murder to solve, and embarks on a quest that takes him to a little fishing village north of London in Essex where he encounters many more mysteries. Rutledge learns that the man was not who he claimed to be, and that was but the first thing he had to unravel. Then to discover the meaning of the only clue he had: a gold woman’s locket with the picture of a young girl, found around the man’s neck. Without the sanction of an official inquiry, the Inspector proceeds to develop the facts, despite the uncooperative and even hostile reception he receives in the village where additional murders and deaths occur. A novel written by the mother-and-son team writing under the nom de plume Charles Todd, Confession is up to the high level of its predecessors: the plot is tightly woven, the characters well-drawn and the reader is drawn forward anxiously waiting to find out what comes next. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another engaging and delectable story featuring that well-rounded character - Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard. Can't say which of the Rutledge mysteries is the best: they're all equally enjoyable. Good character development in a well-written and interesting story line.
BookLoverCT More than 1 year ago
This story starts with an individual coming to Ian to confess to a crime. It is now up to Inspector Ian Rutledge to figure out the truth. The story centers around a very unfriendly fishing town of Furnham. All of these stories have been enjoyable reads. Enjoy Hammish's insights in all of his books.
DeeZeeCA More than 1 year ago
As usual you think you now where the flow is going, but you don't. Hard to put down and sleep. A great series of books!
TexasGrandmaKK More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! So many twists and turns--lots of red herrings which had me puzzling over who the murderer really was. Vintage Charles Todd with Inspector Rutledge at his finest. Would recommend very highly!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series. Would love to see a PBS series made from the books. As usual the mother/son authors have a great twist to the ending. Looking forward to the next book. Also recommend the Bess Crawford series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this whole series and it keeps getting better. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plenty of twists and good plots and characters, I enjoyed and I can see Ian Rutledge became older and deal with his shell shock better. Worthwhile!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this one. More of Ian doing his work and not Hamish taking over . Good mystery, lots of twists. Highly recommed.
JimJF More than 1 year ago
I rate this a four star only because of the period which is not something I seek out. The writing and originality of the plot are superb.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure how these U.S. co-authors manage to create such wonderful British mysteries, but I hope they have many more yarns to spin! Love Inspector Rutledge. by aj west
TravelerPS More than 1 year ago
Excellent plot! A man comes into Scotland Yard to admit to a murder, then he himself is found dead a week or so later! Rutledge leaves for a village and has to sort out his investigation from many complicated clues. I have read all the books except for the last one this past year and Charles Todd writing team has gotten better with each novel! Great reading!
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Way to many characters! Could have been a great book.
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SilversReviews More than 1 year ago
Furnham was a fishing town with very unfriendly residents that could spot an unfriendly outsider immediately when he walked into town. Ian Rutledge was the stranger that screamed police, and the residents screamed nothing but coldness and silence. What could they be hiding, and why would they deny that they knew anything about the dead man in the photo when he had relatives in the town and had lived there nearby as a child? The residents of Furnham were an odd lot with loyalty to each other and the entire town. Rutledge definitely felt all the answers to the murdered man were in this small fishing town, but getting the information was going to prove to be difficult. He returned time after time much to the anger of the town’s residents, but the clues were there....they just had to be “dug” out. Another thing to consider too.....was the current investigation connected to past people and past disappearances and murders? Is that why the town was so closed mouthed? Don’t miss out on this one ……Ian was on another great investigation in this Todd mystery and, of course, Hamish was there as well. The setting, the twists and turns of the storyline, the subplots, and the fascinating, well-described characters will again keep you involved and turning the pages. I always look forward to an Ian Rutledge mystery....you get completely involved with the story and characters. 5/5
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