Review: A Test of Wills by Charles Todd

a-test-of-wills-audioA Test of Wills
by Charles Todd
Narrated by Samuel Giles
Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge #1
Genre: Historical Mystery (Great Britain, 1919)
Published by Recorded Books, 2012 (originally published 1996)
Audiobook, purchased
305 pages
10 hours, 28 minutes
Grade: B+
Narrator Grade: B
Synopsis: Ian Rutledge returns to his career at Scotland Yard after years fighting in the First World War. Unknown to his colleagues he is still suffering from shell shock, and is burdened with the guilt of having had executed a young soldier on the battlefield for refusing to fight. A jealous colleague has learned of his secret and has managed to have Rutledge assigned to a difficult case which could spell disaster for Rutledge whatever the outcome. A retired officer has been murdered, and Rutledge goes to investigate.  

“Tell me something. Why is everyone so determined to believe Wilton is innocent?”

Surprised, Davies said, “He’s a war hero isn’t he? Admired by the King and a friend of the Prince of Wales. He’s visited Sandringham, been received by Queen Mary herself! A man like that doesn’t go around killing people!”

With a wry downturn of his lips, Rutledge silently asked, “How did he win his medals, you fool, if not by being so very damned good at killing?”


  • A very good story. Well written.
  • This is as much about WWI as it is about the murder mystery.
  • Ian Rutledge was a soldier in WWI and is still suffering from shell shock though he has come back to work for Scotland Yard. He hears a Scottish voice in his head. The voice of the soldier he executed during the War.
  • This case involves Army officers and someone suffering from shell shock. This doesn’t help Inspector Rutledge who is trying to survive in the world and work through his problems. Which is the reason a resentful colleague suggests Scotland Yard send Inspector Rutledge to investigate this case.
  • Scotland Yard does send Rutledge to investigate this difficult case, because they decide he’s expendable since he’s just started work again after the War.
  • Rutledge isn’t sure he has what it takes to solve crimes anymore. And he has flashbacks from the War. This is a difficult case for him, but he perseveres.


  • The book had a lot of characters so it was a little hard to follow the narration.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I enjoyed this book so much and I want to read more books in this series.

Literary Awards

  • Barry Award for Best First Novel (1997), Anthony Award Nominee for Best First Novel (1997), Dilys Award Nominee (1997), Edgar Award Nominee for Best First Novel (1997)

About the author

  • Charles and Caroline Todd are the mother-son writing team who use the pen name Charles Todd. They also write the Bess Crawford series about a WWI nurse.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading (audiobook)

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

3 thoughts on “Review: A Test of Wills by Charles Todd”

  1. This is an author I’ve really been wanting to read but haven’t gotten to yet. I have the first in Bess Crawford series but I like the sound of this one as well. Do you think this might be easier to follow in print? I can see all those characters getting confusing. Great review!


  2. Like Katherine, this is a series I want to try. I’ve had to give up on listening to mysteries on audio, to confusing. This would have to be print or digital for me.


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