Book Review: Charles Todd’s The Confession

Posted February 6, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Charles Todd’s The Confession

The Confession


Charles Todd

historical mystery in Hardcover edition that was published by William Morrow on January 3, 2012 and has 344 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include An Impartial Witness, A Lonely Death, A Bitter Truth, An Unmarked Grave, The Walnut Tree, Proof of Guilt, A Question of Honor, An Unwilling Accomplice, Hunting Shadows, A Pattern of Lies, A Fine Summer's Day, No Shred of Evidence, The Shattered Tree, Racing the Devil, A Casualty of War

Fourteenth in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series revolving around a 1920 Scotland Yard detective still suffering from shell shock after World War I.

My Take

Either Todd is getting tired of writing it or Rutledge is beginning to recover a bit from the shell shock as he isn’t experiencing the same depth of problems in this installment.

Jeez, it’s hard to believe an entire village can be so involved in the smuggling that they can simply write off human mercy — “a communal conscience … laden with guilt”.

Todd makes an interesting case for the wrong of “protecting” children from reality. So much that could have been different if only the truth had emerged. It was so sad as Rutledge revealed back histories to “today’s” interested parties. So much they finally understood. So much that could have been better. So much that made me cry.

Okay, Todd keeps dropping all these giganto hints of the heir to both Fowler and Russell and he goes nowhere with it. If he’s going to throw out the red herrings, do it. Don’t just plop it and leave it. I guess I’m whining because Todd is usually so devious and twisty with subtle underlayers that this particular hint was just so out of place.

It’s a shame about the cancer, Willet’s books sound interesting and I so hate seeing a promising life cut short (even if it’s only a fictional one!)…hmmm, maybe Todd will write us some short stories… He certainly has the period well in hand.

Damn, what is with all the loose threads!

The Story

Wyatt Russell confronts Rutledge in his Scotland Yard office to confess to a murder. Yet, when Ian wants more details Wyatt backs down and runs. It’s just odd enough that Ian decides to drive down to Furnham in Essex and explore. An exploration that leaves both Ian and Frances filled with dread.

It’s “Wyatt’s” body being found with a bullet hole that really sets things off. Something is obviously wrong, and the feeling of “get out” that both Rutledges felt that day encourages Ian to dive into the investigation. And the more Ian investigates, the more muck is revealed: local and personal histories that tie in to a number of murders. Murders that haunt.

Cynthia Farraday has no fans in Furnham, and her actions are certainly suspicious with her breaking into River’s Edge and eluding Ian. Then the real Major Wyatt Russell is found, but nothing he says can be trusted, and he promptly escapes for a whirlwind of minor crimes. More digging reveals more possibilities with the cold case of Justin Fowler’s parents’ murders presenting yet more clues.

The Characters

Detective Inspector Ian Rutledge is still recovering, actually, he’ll never recover from his experiences in the trenches. Especially his having to shoot his sergeant for refusing an order. A typically stupid, WWI order forcing his men to attack a German emplacement that would only result in yet more death without any gain. Now Hamish MacLeod haunts Ian, a reminder of his action, but also a soldier who’s got his back. Now he’s Scotland Yard and continuing the fight for justice.

Scotland Yard
Sergeant Hampton. Sergeant Gibson hates Bowles as well and helps Rutledge any way he can. Chief Superintendent Bowles is ill…yeah! I’m hoping we get to attend his funeral…ooh, snarky much…? Inspector Robinson in Colchester is currently in charge of the Fowler murder case. Mr. Harrison of Biddle, Harrison and Bailey was the Fowler family lawyer; if he’d revealed all his information…

River’s Edge at Furnham in Essex
Justin Fowler, Wyatt Russell, and Cynthia Farraday were children growing up together at River’s Edge in Essex. With the war and Wyatt’s mother’s disappearance, those children scattered, and nothing is as it seems. Nancy Brothers was a housemaid at River’s Edge with inside information on the family. Harold Finley was the chauffeur and then the caretaker when Fowler and Russell enlisted before he also enlisted.

Mr. Morrison is the rector at Furnham. Sandy Barber, married to Abigail Willet, is the publican of the Rowing Boat and seems to rule the village with the exception of Timothy Jessup who rules them all. The innkeeper at The Dragonfly Inn is typical of the village — no one wants outsiders in Furnham, and their overt attitudes are loud and clear. Ben Willet was destined to be a fisherman, but he had more in mind for himself. First a step up to footman, then with the intervention of the war and Miss Farraday’s encouragement, he took another step up to author. Constable Nelson is a disgrace to the force.

George Munro was a fellow soldier whose life Rutledge saved on the Somme; now he works at the War Office with access to some useful info. Frances Rutledge is his sister. Dr. Fleming, Ian’s psychiatrist; and, Melinda Crawford;and, Meredith Channing get a mention.

The Cover and Title

The cover appears to be snowing with an awkward angle looking up through the top of a wrought iron fence as a bird glides in the wind.

The title is accurate, although it could be plural as there is more than one The Confession in this tale.