Category Archives: Mystery Series

The Book Whisperer Reviews a Favorite: Penny’s Latest Gamache Novel


On a recent visit to Central Library for a meeting, I stopped to check the Quick Pick (QP) table just to see what was available. Imagine my surprise to find six copies of A Better Man, Louise Penny’s latest in the Armand Gamache series. It was published in August, 2019!

Not surprisingly, A Better Man has already received accolades from a number of reviewers. The Times of London named it a book of the month while The Christian Science Monitor named it one of the best books of August.

Louise Penny’s fans expect her to provide a good story. A Better Man certainly has a strong storyline.  All of our favorite characters from Three Pines are included along with the police agents we’ve come to know.

Besides investigating a murder, Gamache and Beauvoir and the police crew must deal with several other issues: Gamache’s return to homicide after a suspension and a catastrophic potential flooding across the province.

After a nine-month suspension, Gamache returns to the Surete’ demoted to second in command of homicide under his son-in-law, now named Chief Inspector Beauvoir.  Of course, long-time Penny fans will remember that Beauvoir will soon be leaving Quebec for Paris and a safe job, no longer a police officer. How will Gamache act when he is no longer in charge? What about the other officers, the subordinates?

The other difficulty that will involve police and other first responders is the potential for flooding caused by the April thaws and continuous rain. Rivers are threatening to burst dams and flood the province.

Gamache has mentored Beauvoir through his career and his rise to Chief Inspector. In the process, the two have become related through Gamache’s daughter’s marriage to Beauvoir; even more than being related, the two have developed a mutual respect and love for one another as brothers in arms and human beings.

As the story moves forward, I enjoyed seeing Beauvoir engage in many of the behaviors he has observed in Gamache over the years. Gamache is a calm man, a man given to defusing situations with a quiet word and a calm demeanor even when he faces a man holding a gun on him. Beauvoir finds himself thinking like Gamache and quoting lines of poetry or literature—if only in his own head.

The main investigation involves a missing pregnant woman who happens to be Agent Lysette Cloutier’s goddaughter. Several years earlier, Gamache had brought Agent Cloutier from accounting into homicide so she could help with tracing money as part of criminal investigations. Superintendent Isabelle Lacoste is also back following her recovery from a shooting in a drug operation of nine months earlier.

Annie, Gamache’s daughter and Beauvoir’s wife, is about the same age as Vivienne, the missing woman. Annie, too, is pregnant, so Gamache and Beauvoir think about how they would feel if Annie were missing.

While trying to locate Vivienne, the team encounters resistance from Carl Tracey, Vivienne’s abusive drunken husband. Thus, Tracey becomes the prime suspect in Vivienne’s disappearance.

The threatening weather conditions also play a vital role in the investigation. Other issues that intrude on the investigation include tweets denigrating Gamache and saying he is unfit for service. I found those tweets to be disturbing because they clearly are being sent out by people who do not know Gamache and have no respect for him because they do not know the full story.

Another side story concerns Clara, the artist resident of Three Pines. Her latest exhibition has been savaged by art critics. She feels personally attacked and deflated because of the terrible reviews.

In the end, Gamache and Beauvoir determine what has happened to Vivienne and who is responsible. The results are surprising. A Better Man is certainly a satisfying read.

Louise Penny’s Web site,, gives readers insight into the characters and the setting of the Gamache novels. Readers can also subscribe to her newsletter which keeps them updated on Penny’s work.

I learned on the Web site that Penny is a great supporter of literacy programs. In addition to being actively involved in literacy organizations, Penny has written a grade 3 novella: The Hangman. The story is set in Three Pines and features Chief Inspector Gamache. The book is designed to engage “emerging adult readers.” Anyone who works with adult learners knows that finding appropriate reading material at a level that the readers can understand as they are learning, but also appeal to an adult audience, is difficult.


The Book Whisperer Enjoys The Sentence is Death


Anthony Horowitz has an impressive body of work as a writer, TV script-writer, and TV show creator. He even stars in two of his recent books: The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death. In both of those books, Horwitz shadows former police detective and now PI Daniel Hawthorne as Hawthorne solves tricky murder cases, a’ la Sherlock Holmes. Hawthorne approached Horowitz to act as Watson, chronicling Hawthorne’s investigation and subsequent solving of the cases. Against his better judgment, Horowitz agreed to the arrangement and even signed a three-book deal, so readers must expect a third book in the Hawthorne series. Perhaps this one will have paragraph in the title since the first two have word and sentence as part of the titles.

Richard Pryce, a high-profile divorce lawyer is found murdered in his own posh home, bashed with an expensive bottle of wine and then cut with the broken bottle. The list of suspects grows as the investigation heats up. Anthony Horowitz tags along with PI Hawthorne whom the police have brought in to help with the case. Each time Horowitz believes he has made headway in figuring out the murderer, he finds himself back as square one.

Hawthorne does not share information willingly and allows Horowitz to think he has figured out a clue when he may be close but not completely on the right track. Add to this frustrating mix, DI Cara Grunshaw of the Metropolitan Police who is in charge of the investigation and eager to solve the murder before Hawthorne succeeds even though they are supposed to be working together toward the same end.

Horowitz describes DI Grunshaw’s hair as “real but it resembled one of those cheap wigs worn by department-store mannequins, jet black and as glossy as nylon. It didn’t seem to belong on her head.” He also says she is “mean and hostile.” And the name Grunshaw seems right out of Dickens, a name that suggests someone vile.

Can an incident from six years ago when Charles Richardson, a friend of Pryce’s, died in a cave exploration accident have something to do with Pryce’s death? Three friends, Richard Pryce, Gregory Taylor, and Charles Richardson, all friends from university days, would meet once a year to go on spelunking holidays. Six years ago, a sudden rainstorm caused the cave the three were in to flood and Charles drowned in the cave while Richard and Gregory managed to escape.

Pryce had just settled a divorce dispute between Adrian Lockwood, wealthy land developer and his wife Akira Anno, a well-known author. Anno had threatened Pryce in a restaurant when the two happened to meet unexpectedly. Anno felt she had been cheated in the divorce settlement. But would she kill Pryce after making a public threat in front of many people?

Gregory Taylor must be counted as a suspect too until he, too, is found dead. Is his death murder, suicide, or accident? Then Davina Richardson, Charles’ widow, has motive to kill both Pryce and Taylor, doesn’t she? After all, her husband goes into the cave with Pryce and Taylor, but he does not make it out alive, leaving her a widow with a young son. What about other suspects? The list grows.

Horowitz has great fun playing with language in The Sentence is Death. Akira Anno, for example, is an author who has written novels and recently published a book of haikus. During the investigation, Hawthorne and Horowitz ask Anno about Haiku 182:

“You breathe in my ear/ Your every word a trial / The sentence is death.”

Hawthorne and Horowitz take the poem too literally to mean that Anno wishes someone dead, possibly Pryce. She tells them that “you have not understood a single word I wrote.” She continues by saying, “The haiku was not about Richard Pryce. I wrote it before I knew of his existence. It’s about my marriage. It was written or Adrian Lockwood.” She goes on to explain “I have placed myself in a condemned cell [by marrying Adrian]. I use the word trial in two senses. It refers to my day-to-day suffering but also to the fact that I am legally his wife. And I am not sentencing him to death. In fact, it is exactly the other way around. I am the one who is dying, although the last line is of course a paraposdokian, with the double entendre in sentence.”

Horowitz is clearly having fun with the haiku and the language in that passage and others.

DI Cara Grunshaw has made it clear to Horowitz that he should report to her everything he learns when he is with Hawthorne. Horowtiz believes he has figured out who murdered Pryce and why. He lays out the story to Hawthorne who seems to agree with him and even tells Horowitz he can share his information with DI Grunshaw.

When Horowitz tells Grunshaw the whole story, she pretends she has known all along what Horowitz is saying. Then she promptly arrests a suspect, but is she correct?

When Horowitz sees Hawthorne after the newspapers report the arrest, the two of them meet with Davina Richardson one more time. Hawthorne tells Davina that Gregory Taylor had been to visit her shortly before his death. She responds, “You can’t know that.” Hawthorne replies with “when you have excluded the impossible whatever remains, however improbably, must be the truth.”

That last line sums up the investigation, for Hawthorne has, indeed, excluded the impossible and has deduced who murdered Richard Pryce and why. For you to learn who the murderer is, dear readers, you must read The Sentence is Death for yourself. And since Horowitz has signed a contract for three books about Hawthorne, we must look for the next one.

Discover more about Anthony Horowitz at his Web site:

The Book Whisperer Discovers a New-to-Her Cozy Author


Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, endures a year of mourning for an unfaithful husband. When the mourning ends, she throws off her black clothing and heads for London, shedding not only the clothes of mourning, but also the crumbling mansion that now belongs to the second son, Graham and his wife Delia. With her young daughter Rose, Frances takes a long-term lease on a house in Belgravia, part of London.

As a mystery lover and a cozy mystery lover to boot, I enjoy discovering new authors as well as relying on my long-time favorites.  In a recent article, I read about Dianne Freeman whose new series stars an amateur sleuth, Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh.  The first book is A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, published in 2018 and the second book is A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, published in 2019.

Frances is a bit taken aback when she discovers George Hazelton, brother to her best friend Fiona, is her next-door neighbor. She and George and Alicia Stoke-Whitney share a dark secret they wish to keep in the dark.

Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, endures a year of mourning for an unfaithful husband. When the mourning ends, she throws off her black clothing and heads for London, shedding not only the clothes of mourning, but also the crumbling mansion that now belongs to the second son, Graham and his wife Delia. Frances is enjoying her freedom in London when she discovers her mother in America is sending Frances’s younger sister Lily and their aunt Hetty to live with Frances so that Frances can sponsor Lily for the season. The story heats up when Inspector Delaney visits Frances and tells her that her husband’s death is being investigated as a possible murder. Frances is certain he died of a heart attack, but is that accurate? To make matters worse, Graham is suing Frances to keep the money Frances’s father bestowed upon her when she married Reggie, Graham’s older brother. The suit freezes Frances’s bank account, at least temporarily. Could the plot worsen? read A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder to discover the whole story.

Frances is herself an American. Her upwardly climbing and wealthy mother sought a title for her daughter so she herself would have bragging rights. She and Frances knew little about Reggie Wynn when the marriage was arranged. Frances soon found herself having to pretend she knew nothing of Reggie’s unfaithful ways. When her daughter Rose is born, Frances focuses on the child. Now, Lily is coming to London to marry another titled Englishman.

Frances vows to help Lily make a better choice than she herself made in marrying Reggie. Other complications will take part of her concentration, however.

Dianne Freeman has written compelling characters who command attention and the plot is complicated enough to remain interesting without being over the top.

Freeman’s blog,, provides readers with a brief biography and an introduction to the books as well as a readers’ guide. For her blog, Freeman interviews other authors and she gives insight into some of her minor characters as well.

The Book Whisperer Discovers a Literary Bent to The Last Detective


Peter Lovesey is a prolific author with more than fifty published books that include mysteries and short stories as well as nonfiction. In addition, he has edited anthologies of short stories. Lovesey has written eighteen books featuring Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond.

The Last Detective, the first book in the Diamond series, almost becomes the last since DS Diamond resigns from the force—only to be reinstated, of course, but after a delving into and solving the murder that takes him off the force in the first place.

Set in Bath, The Last Detective opens with the finding of the nude body of a beautiful woman floating in Chew Valley Lake. Since the body has been in the water an indeterminate time, the medical examiner has a difficult time identifying the cause of death. Some speculation includes suicide, but the police can find no clothes along the shore anywhere. Finally, the ME decides that the woman has been murdered, likely by asphyxiation.

Chew Valley Lake where the body is found is pictured below:


Although DS Diamond is only in his forties, he sees himself as the last detective using legwork, questions of anyone who might be involved, and avoiding computers. At times, he must give in to the pressure to use computers to research crimes, but he assigns those duties to John Wigfull, his new assistant detective.

Like many other brilliant detectives in fiction, DS Diamond faces an uphill battle with the administration. He is of size and has been accused in a previous investigation of pressuring a man into confessing for a crime he did not commit. By the time readers meet Diamond, he has been exonerated, but not to the extent he hoped: complete exoneration, leaving no mark on his record. Diamond also believes Wigfull has been assigned to him as a spy for the brass, so he is distrustful of Wigfull.

He explains to Assistant Chief Constable Tott that in the Missendale affair, Hedley Missendale had confessed because he had been threatened by organized crime bosses to take the fall. Missendale knew he would be safer in prison than disobeying orders. Diamond is accused of racial prejudice, however, in pursuing Missendale, a known criminal. Of course, the official report makes no mention of the threats Missendale endured. The verdict was overturned and Missendale freed.

After some time, the woman is identified as Geraldine, Gerry, Snoo, a former actress who played Candace Milner on The Milners, a soap opera. Her husband is Gregory Jackman, professor of English at the University of Bath.

Complications to the story arise along with subplots. Jackman identifies Gerry’s body for the police. DS Diamond immediately interrogates Jackman, thinking he must have committed the murder, especially since he has not reported his wife missing in the four weeks since he has last seen her.

Jackman is having a coffee and watching three young teenage boys playing near the river. He sees one of the boys dodge a stick thrown by his friend, lose his footing, and fall into the river. Jackman runs to the river’s edge, removing his shoes and suit coat. He manages to grab the boy and drag him ashore, giving him “the kiss of life” to revive him. In the hubbub after the rescue, Jackman slips away unnoticed and no one knows who has saved Mat Didrikson. The mystery man becomes another subplot that takes on significance as the story progresses.

Molly Abershaw, a determined newspaper reporter, takes pictures and statements from Dana and Mat Didrikson, publishing a story in her newspaper. She asks for people to identify the man who rescued Mat or for the man himself to come forward. Then Mat sees a documentary on TV about the Jane Austen exhibit at the University of Bath. Jackman is the curator, so he is showing the reporter around the exhibit when Mat recognizes him. In an effort to thank Jackman, Mrs. Didrikson gives him two letters written by Jane Austen to her Aunt Jane Leigh Perrot. Mrs. Didrikson by researching Jane Austen discovers the letters belong to a man who wanted them only for the stamps. He does not know the value of the letters and Mrs. Didrikson offers him thirty pounds for them which he accepts.

Along with Gerry’s death, the Jane Austen letters go missing. Thus, the complications surrounding the case mount up. Diamond clears Jackman of the murder, but then he questions Mrs. Didrikson who has tried to evade him.

In a particularly nasty exchange between DS Diamond and his boss who accuses Diamond of assaulting Mat Didrikson in trying to apprehend Mrs. Didrikson, Diamond resigns. Diamond takes several menial jobs, including one as a bartender. Shortly before Mrs. Didrikson’s trial is to begin, Jackman tracks Diamond down and enlists his help in trying to prove Mrs. Didrikson’s innocence, another uphill battle.

So, readers, the real killer is…. No spoilers here. Read The Last Detective to discover if Mrs. Didrikson is the killer or someone else is responsible for Gerry’s death. And where are the missing Jane Austen letters?

Peter Lovesey maintains an extensive Web site: There readers can discover a list of all his works and information about Peter Livesey himself.

Below is a picture of the Jane Austen Centre located on Gay Street in Bath. Austen lived on the street, but in another home. She actually lived in several locations in Bath.


Lovesey sets the Diamond stories in Bath where he lived for a number of years. Lovesey has won a number of awards including the Cartier Diamond Dagger in 2000, the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, and the Ellery Queen Readers’ Award.

I enjoy reading books in a series because I can become better acquainted with the main character and learn about other characters in his/her life. The series allows the author to continue to develop characters, thus creating a sense of family.



The Book Whisperer Reviews a Cornish Mystery


Carola Dunn,, lives in the US now, but she grew up in England. She has written over sixty books, primarily set in her native land. I discovered Manna from Hades: A Cornish Mystery when I visited Cornwall last year. The information on the back of the book made me wish to read the story, especially having visited Cornwall. Port Maybn, the setting for the story, is, according to Ms. Dunn, very like Port Isaac. The day we spent in Port Isaac was magical (as was most of the trip!); it is the setting for the mythical Port Wen, home of Doc Martin.

Eleanor Trewynn, a widow, has returned to live in Port Mabyn, Cornwall, after living all over the world with her husband. These days, she has retired and has funded a charity shop, LonStar, in the village. She leaves the running of the shop to Jocelyn Stearns, the vicar’s bossy, but very efficient, wife. Eleanor collects donations across the area using her little Morris Minor she has named the Incorrigible. Eleanor and Teazle live above the charity shop in an apartment created when Eleanor had the shop built.

Of course, Teazle, Eleanor’s West Highland Terrier, is her constant companion on the road, on walks, and at home. After a very successful day of collecting donations for LonStar, Eleanor and Teazle return home to unload the car. Eleanor discovers a leather attaché case that she has no memory of collecting, but there it is.

After unloading the car and putting all the donations into the stockroom, Eleanor opens the attaché case to discover it full of jewelry. She thinks it must be paste, or costume jewelry, but she cannot be sure, so she takes the jewelry out of the case and puts it away in the small safe she had secreted into the wall in her apartment. She plans to have the jewelry evaluated to see if it is valuable.

Now, readers must learn some particular quirks about Eleanor: she tends to forget where she has put her keys, forgets to lock up the LonStar shop, forgets to lock her car, and forgets to lock the door to her apartment which is upstairs from the LonStar charity shop. Since her car was unlocked while she was inside a home picking up donations, someone unknown to her put the attaché case full of jewels into her car. This forgetfulness will also be a hallmark in the story.

The next day after finding the jewelry, Eleanor discovers the body of a young man in the storeroom and the attaché case is missing. The young man has apparently hit his head on a rather odd coffee table donation; the coffee table looks like a dolphin.

Is the young man the victim of an accident or is he a murder victim? Eleanor must call the local police to investigate. As it happens, Eleanor’s niece Megan Pencarrow is a junior detective on the police force. DI Scumble will be the officer in charge of the investigation. DI Scumble is a rather impatient, misogynistic man who is not too happy to discover that Megan is Aunt Nell’s niece, but he needs Megan on the case, despite his mistreatment of her and his impatience with everyone.

Artist Nick Gresham has a small apartment, studio, and shop near LonStar. He often helps Eleanor unload her car when she returns from her donation gatherings. Eleanor would like to see Nick and her niece Megan form a relationship, but she keeps that wish to herself.

The jewelry turns out to be real and expensive. The young man appears to have been murdered, so the police must interrogate everyone in the area, especially those involved with the charity shop. The suspects continue to mount up as the investigation continues. Then Megan breaks the case open by discovering the dead man’s identity and also finds some people who had been living in squats with him in a nearby town.

Manna from Hades is a story to keep the reader guessing. It also introduces delightful characters whom the readers will enjoy getting to know. Other books in the series include A Colourful Death, Valley of the Shadow, and Buried in the Country.




The Book Whisperer Reviews a Favorite!


Alan Bradley has written ten books featuring Flavia de Luce, a young lady interested in chemistry and solving murders. Through the ten books, fans have come to know Flavia, her father, her sisters Daffy and Feely, Mrs. Mullet, the housekeeper, and most importantly, Dogger. Of course, we must mention Cynthia, the vicar’s wife, and Inspector Hewitt of the local constabulary.

The Seattle Times describes Flavia as “the world’s greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth.” The Wall Street Journal calls Bradley’s mysteries “delightful…. The mysteries in Mr. Bradley’s books are engaging, but the real lure is Ms. de Luce, the irreverent youngster.”

Bradley has a robust body of work; his most famous and most widely read books are those in which Flavia shines. On the radio, Bradley’s wife heard Louise Penny, delightful mystery author, describing the Debut Dagger fiction competition. To enter, writers had to submit the first chapter and a synopsis of a murder mystery. Bradley’s wife persuaded him to write about “the girl on the camp stool” who was a minor character in a novel Bradley was writing.

Bradley won the Debut Dagger award and thus his first book in the Flavia series was born: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Interest has continued to grow in Flavia’s adventures and the books now number ten. The latest book is The Golden Tresses of the Dead. The Golden Tresses of the Dead opens with Feely’s marriage to Dieter, the former German POW. Readers will remember that Mr. de Luce has died, leaving the three girls living in Buckshaw which now belongs solely to Flavia.

Mrs. Mullet continues as cook and housekeeper, always dispensing her wisdom. Mrs. Mullet knowledge is limited, but she shares it. She tells Flavia “Miss Daphne says she doesn’t want her tea. She’s got ‘er nose stuck in a book. Useless, I think it’s called, by some woman named Joyce.” Flavia and Dogger have formed a partnership as PIs: Arthur W. Dogger & Associates. In The Golden Tresses of the Dead, Dogger and Flavia have their first client, Mrs. Prill who asks them to find some purloined letters.

A number of other people figure in the story. Miss Pursemaker and Miss Stonebrook are missionaries just returned from Africa. They stay briefly with Mrs. Prill before Cynthia, the vicar’s wife, asks Flavia to put them up at Buckshaw until they give their lecture on disease in Africa which will take place at the church.

As Flavia and Dogger investigate the missing letters, they first visit Dr. Brocken, Mrs. Prill’s father. Dr. Brocken has made his fortune making and selling homeopathic medicines, particularly those made with balsam. He now resides in Gollingford Abbey, a nursing home, supposedly suffering from dementia. After meeting with Dr. Brocken, Dogger and Flavia decide to visit Mrs. Prill in her home.

Dear Readers, what do they find when they arrive at Mrs. Prill’s grand home? Why, of course, Mrs. Prill is dead, sitting at her kitchen table with a cup of coffee in front of her.

Now, who has killed Mrs. Prill and why? Why does Dr. Brocken feign dementia? What role do Miss Pursemaker and Miss Stonebrook play? And don’t forget about the finger found in Feely’s wedding cake. To whom did it belong and why is it in the cake?

Since The Golden Tresses of the Dead is a mystery, readers must read the book to discover how these characters come together and why they are involved in the murder. Suffice it to say that readers will not be disappointed with Bradley’s latest Flavia escapade as Flavia and Dogger become true partners in their investigations.

Bradley’s Web site is a bit out of date, but readers will find some useful information there:

The Book Whisperer Discovers Charles Todd & Inspector Rutledge


CatherineTarrant tells Inspector Ian Rutledge that “you aren’t afraid until you’ve got something to lose. But when you love someone or something, you’re terrified – there’s so much at stake, then, so much at risk, you see….” Catherine’s statement becomes pivotal in Rutledge’s investigation into Colonel Charles Harris’s murder. A Test of Wills marks the first in the Inspector Rutledge series by mother/son duo Charles and Caroline Todd, writing as Charles Todd.

As noted before in this blog, I do love a good series. A series allows the authors to grow as writers. Another advantage is that the characters also develop fully as the series continues. Many books in a series can be read as stand-alone books. The plots are not intertwined and the newest book does not depend on the previous book for the readers to understand what is happening. However, reading the books in order does allow readers to see the characters’ growth. Occasionally, readers may also find references to past stories.

I have had a Charles Todd book on my TBR list for some time. On a recent visit to the library, I discovered my local library had A Test of Wills, the first in the Inspector Rutledge series, so I checked it out.

A Test of Wills takes place in 1919, following WWI. Inspector Rutledge has just returned to work at Scotland Yard following a rehab after the war. He still battles Hamish, a dead soldier who haunts him and taunts him. Rutledge must constantly work to keep Hamish at bay because of Hamish’s interference and negative comments.

Superintendent Bowles does not like Inspector Rutledge and hopes to see Rutledge discredited and fired from the force at Scotland Yard. As a result, Bowles sends Rutledge on a nearly impossible mission, one that Bowles hopes will completely disgrace Rutledge and even cause a scandal. The mission is to solve the murder of Colonel Charles Harris which occurred in the village of Warwickshire.

Colonel Harris’s murder has been brutal: a shotgun blast severed his head from his body as he rode his horse in the countryside near his estate. Rutledge discovers the villagers distrust him since he comes from London, so Rutledge must win their trust in order to solve the murder. Rutledge must piece together bits of information until he can see the whole puzzle laid out before him. Unfortunately, the pieces do not come in sequence, so he has blank spots to fill.

Rutledge interviews villagers, servants, and friends; all of them say that Colonel Harris was a good, kind man whom everyone loved. Rutledge comments, “Yet someone murdered him.” The most obvious suspect is Captain Mark Wilton, pilot and war hero, who is engaged to Lettice Wood, Charles Harris’s ward. Why would Wilton kill Harris, though? The men are good friends and both have been happy about the engagement.

Still, servants overhear a heated argument between Wilton and Harris following dinner the night before Harris is murdered. What have the two long-time friends argued about? How much does Lettice know about the argument? Rutledge runs into road blocks in questioning both Lettice and Mark. Neither is keen to talk about the argument. The servants can only say they heard raised voices, but could not understand what was being said.

Other villagers may also have motive, but several of them have alibis that Rutledge verifies. In addition to the pressure from everyone in the village, Rutledge faces pressure from Bowles and Scotland Yard to solve the murder. If he accuses Captain Wilton, a decorated war hero, Rutledge will face censure from the Crown as well as Bowles. Of course, readers know that’s exactly what Bowles wants since the accusation will discredit Rutledge.

Dogged perseverance allows Rutledge to keep seek information and putting the information together to find the killer. Is it Wilton? Is it Mavers, the loud, obnoxious villager who spews venom at everyone in the village? Or is it someone else? Will the key lie in the argument between Wilton and Harris the night before Harris’s death? Or is another reason the cause of the murder. Read A Test of Wills to discover who kills Colonel Charles Harris and to discover if Rutledge continues as inspector.

Charles and Caroline Todd write the Inspector Rutledge series together. The series now numbers 36 books. The two also write another series starring Bess Crawford, a battlefield nurse; those books now number 10 in the series. Bess Crawford has been compared to Jacqueline Winspear’s Masie Dobbs, a favorite character, so I look forward to reading one of the Bess Crawford books as well.


Caroline Todd earned a BA in English literature and history with a master’s in international relations. Charles Todd has a BA in communication studies, emphasizing business management and a culinary arts degree. Both Todds credit listening to “fathers and grandfathers reminisce” for their story-telling skills.

Read about both Todds and their books at this site: