March 18, 2012

The Confession: A Book Review and a Bit of Bragging

Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge, like millions of other Britons, is suffering from the lingering effects of the Great War. He's haunted by the memory of his dead comrade, Hamish--two years after the armistice, he can still hear Hamish's running commentary in his mind. Then a man walks into Scotland Yard claiming his name is Wyatt Russell, and that he murdered his cousin Justin Fowler during the war. Rutledge is intrigued and drives down to the small Essex village, Furnham, where the two men came from. He discovers an isolated, unfriendly place, whose people are in a hurry to get rid of strangers, prompting Hamish to observe that they seem to be hiding a guilty secret.

Then, a few days later, Wyatt Russell is found floating in the Thames--except he wasn't really Wyatt Russell, but rather Ben Willet, who also grew up in Furnham. Rutledge is bewildered: Why would Willet impersonate Russell to make a confession? Did Willet know the truth about a murder? Is Justin Fowler actually dead? And why are the people of Furnham so opposed to Rutledge's presence?

The Confession demonstrates the confusion of life in postwar England, as everyone struggles to come to terms with how drastically their lives have changed. Charles Todd carefully delves into the nature of survival and how people cope under the duress of both war and murder.

I liked Inspector Rutledge's character, and the unusual 'character' of Hamish in his mind. Plus The Confession harkens back to the same setting as the Maisie Dobbs books, so of course I enjoyed it. But the most interesting part of the story for me is that Charles Todd is actually two people - mother and son writing team Charles and Caroline Todd. I got to meet Charles and Caroline at the Tucson Festival of Books -- where they each signed my copy of The Confession! Interesting tidbit: Caroline always signs at Charles too, because as she puts it, she's just as much Charles Todd as Charles is, she just wasn't born with the name.

I won that copy of The Confession from The Book Club Girl back in January. I'd originally planned to get it signed at the TFOB and then give it away to one of you, but, well...let's just say it found a nice home on my bookshelf. Sorry, you'll have to find your own copy!

Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Yes! 

Have you read Charles Todd? I highly recommend you try these books if you're one of the many Downton Abbey obsessed!

A portion of this review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness on January 3, 2012.