In this prequel set in June 1914, Rutledge is just 23, a young policeman with a bright future in the Yard – if he can endure the Chief Superintendent’s antipathy. He’s naïve when it comes to women, though. Newly engaged, he thinks his pretty fiancée Jean Gordon will make him happy, while his sister and friends are doubtful. When he gets called to investigate a hanging in Yorkshire, he finds himself befuddled. The dead man was a successful furniture maker with no known enemies. Before long, Rutledge is assigned to investigate two other murders in different corners of the country, and the victims have similarly unblemished reputations.
Readers are shown the perpetrator at the beginning, but even after Rutledge figures things out, there’s still plenty of mystery left. The story becomes an exciting cat-and-mouse thriller as he pursues his man while determining the “how” and the “why.” Tension and atmosphere are added via Britain’s increasing slide towards war, Jean’s pressure on him to enlist, and his need to clear an innocent man before it’s too late. Despite one outlandish coincidence, this is a suspenseful mystery that grips one’s attention until the end.
A Fine Summer's Day was published in January by William Morrow in hardcover ($25.99 or Can$33.50, 352pp). This review first appeared in February's Historical Novels Review.
Some other notes:
- If you haven't already noticed, the "elegant country house" cover is on its way to becoming as prevalent as the "headless woman" cover. This doesn't indicate, in either case, that the books are all the same or even close to similar style-wise, though.
- Yes, this is 17th in a series, but because it's a prequel, you can read it first without any trouble. (I'm not one who needs to read series books in order, but I know others prefer to do that.) I've read many books in the Ian Rutledge series so far, including #1, 15, and 16, but not all of them yet.