A Matter of Justice by Charles Todd

matter-of-justiceThis is the 11th in the Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery series, but the first one I’ve read.  As a historical mystery, it makes for an interesting genre, but what I found even more intriguing was that the author, Charles Todd, is a pseudonym for a mother-son team who don’t even live in the same state!  Even in this high-tech world, I still marvel at that kind of skill, but for now, let’s focus on the story.

A Matter of Justice takes place in 1920’s England, and the main character, Rutledge, is an inspector for Scotland Yard.  He is called to the rural village of Somerset to investigate the brutal murder of a successful London financier, Harold Quarles.  There are no shortages of suspects, as many of the villagers openly admit to totally despising the man.  Even Quarles’ wife and the town’s police officer are under suspicion.

In what turns out to be a very effective technique, the reader is clued in to the real killer early on, and as the pages kept turning, I began to fear that Rutledge would arrest the wrong person or never literally bring the “matter to justice.”  Another useful ploy was the voice of Hamish in Rutledge’s head.  Hamish,  a soldier who died under Rutledge’s command in the trenches of WWI,  serves as a sort of guilty conscience for the inspector. This contributes greatly to making him a fully human character and not just some singular sleuth.  Though some will find this similar to an Agatha Christie mystery, I found it refreshingly superior.

Reader’s Recipe

  • Check out Mary Alice Monroe’s new book, Time is a River.time-is-a-river4
  • Take one recent breast cancer survivor (Mia Landan)
  • Add one cheating husband who files for divorce
  • Locate in a remote, dilapidated fishing cabin in the mountains of North Carolina
  • Sift in mysterious, scandalous details about the former owner (legendary fly-fisher Kate Watkins)
  • Temper Mia’s quest for the truth about Kate with her friend’s command to not dig up the ruinous past
  • Add prescribed tall and handsome love interest
  • Simmer for 369 pages
  • Top with predictable (convenient but still ultimately satisfying) plot line
  • Note: This is a quick and easy recipe. Not for the gourmand, but perfect for reading at the beach (or in a little fishing cabin in the woods!) End result: another popular novel by a New York Time’s bestselling author. Serves multitudes. Bon appétit!

City of the Sun by David Levien

Although I enjoy James Patterson and Harlan Coben it’s nice to come across a solid suspense novel by someone else. City of the Sun grabs you from the beginning as 12 year old Jamie Gabriel disappears while on his morning paper route. We come to understand his parents desperation as month after month passes with one dead end after another. As all hope of finding Jamie is essentially lost, the Gabriels’ last plea for some closure comes from a former police officer turned private detective, Frank Behr. This colorful character adds his own tortured subplot to the story. We finally learn that Jamie’s disappearance is related to the youth slave trade. With renewed hope Frank and Jamie’s father track down the ring in Cuidad del Sol – the City of the Sun. The ending is climactic to say the least.

David Levien writes concisely yet allows you to feel the overwhelming emotions of the characters involved. The story is tense and exciting; well worth reading!