On a fine summer’s day in June 1914, Ian Rutledge is planning to propose to a woman he deeply loves, despite hints from his family and friends that she may not be the most suitable choice for a policeman’s wife. To the north, another man in love—a Scottish Highlander named Hamish MacLeod—asks his own sweetheart to marry him.Back in England, a son grieves for his mother, dredging up a dark injustice that will trigger a series of murders that Rutledge must solve. The victims are all upstanding and well-liked. The local police have their suspicions about the culprits and are less than cooperative with the London detective.As clouds of war gather on the horizon, Rutledge digs deeper, finding similarities and patterns between the murders. With every moment at stake, he sets out to right a terrible wrong—an odyssey that will eventually force him to choose between the Yard and his country, between love and duty, and between honour and truth.
This is the second book in the Inspector Rutledge series that I have read. The first one I read was Hunting Shadows, the book that preceded this one. I really enjoyed Hunting Shadows and thus had high expectations for A Fine Summer’s Day. Unfortunately, however, it did not deliver.
It is unclear to me if this is because I just didn’t like the story, or because this is sort of a prequel, and I haven’t read the whole series. Perhaps if I had I would have had more understanding and insight. Perhaps what happened would have held more meaning.
At this point you might be wondering why I have read two books so far along in the series without reading the previous ones. I have read books sixteen and seventeen in the series. I was under the impression that they can easily be read as stand-alones. For the most part this is true; the storylines are episodic, not a continuation of the previous book. What continues on is the the characters. However, the tagline to A Fine Summer’s Day is “Where it all began…” So i’m guessing that I would have gotten more out of this book if I read all the books?
That being said, let’s get back to it, shall we?
I didn’t really like this book. I felt that the pacing was too slow for my liking, and that the characters weren’t fully developed. I didn’t particularly care for any of them! And in this story, Rutledge is travelling all over England, so the sense of place isn’t nearly as strong as it was in Hunting Shadows—and that had been one of my favourite things about that book.
However, again, I can see that long time readers of the series would have more of an appreciation for this throwback to the earlier days of Rutledge’s career. Perhaps it led to more explanation about who he is presently—I don’t really know.
What I do know is that Hunting Shadows was incredibly atmospheric and Rutledge then was a character with depth. In A Fine Summer’s Day, Rutledge is two dimensional, and so are the other people in his life. This was particularly disappointing because I’m more of a character reader.
Furthermore, the mystery felt pretty sub-par. I wasn’t interested in it. I didn’t really care about the outcome, and a lot about it seemed implausible and unlikely. A lot of it was just too convenient for my liking. Or something. This made the book pretty hard for me to get through.
Don’t get me wrong, though. This book isn’t horrible—this can be attested by all the other reviews on this tour! It just wasn’t for me. And I did find some good things about it.
The time period it’s set in is really interesting, and was explored nicely. It takes place on the cusp of the first world war in England. This led to some really interesting discussions and actions among the characters. The authors did a good job exploring the attitudes surrounding the war.
Even though I didn’t particularly care for this book, it has not deterred me from the rest of the series! I’m still definitely going to dive into the earlier books in the series! Hopefully they are more like Hunting Shadows than this one.
Charles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina.Visit their website at Charlestodd.com and like CharlesToddNovels on Facebook.
Tuesday, September 29th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, September 29th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Wednesday, September 30th: Back Porchervations
Wednesday, September 30th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, October 1st: Luxury Reading
Friday, October 2nd: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, October 5th: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Wednesday, October 7th: Lavish Bookshelf
Thursday, October 8th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Friday, October 9th: Laura’s Reviews
Monday, October 12th: Reading to Distraction
Wednesday, October 14th: Queen of All She Reads
Wednesday, October 14th: FictionZeal
Thursday, October 15th: Fuelled by Fiction
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.