Friday, March 11, 2016

Charles Todd--No Shred of Evidence

DEBORAH CROMBIE: As I said at the beginning of the week, my one consolation for coming home from Left Coast Crime in Phoenix with the flu was my copy of Charles Todd's new Ian Rutledge novel, No Shred of Evidence, clutched in my hot (literally) little hand.



I am such a fan. I have been since the first Rutledge novel, A Test of Wills (talk about a binge read!), and long before I was privileged to know Charles and Caroline, the mother/son writing team who are "Charles Todd."

Caroline, unfortunately, was one of the many other people who went home from Phoenix with the flu, and she is still really under the weather. So we're going to do something a little different today. I'm going to talk about the book, and then Caroline is going to chat with us in the comments. AND she is going to give a copy of NO SHRED OF EVIDENCE to one of our commenters!

First, here's the synopsis:

In this absorbing new entry in the acclaimed New York Times bestselling series, Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge is caught up in a twisted web of vengeance and murder.

On the north coast of Cornwall, an apparent act of mercy is repaid by an arrest for murder. Four young women have been accused of the crime. A shocked father calls in a favor at the Home Office. Scotland Yard is asked to review the case.

However, Inspector Ian Rutledge is not the first Inspector to reach the village. Following in the shoes of a dead man, he is told the case is all but closed. Even as it takes an unexpected personal turn, Rutledge will require all his skill to deal with the incensed families of the accused, the grieving parents of the victim, and local police eager to see these four women sent to the infamous Bodmin Gaol. Then why hasn’t the killing stopped?

With no shred of evidence to clear the accused, Rutledge must plunge deep into the darkest secrets of a wild, beautiful and dangerous place if he is to find a killer who may—or may not—hold the key to their fate.

Oh, there's so much this doesn't say! I'm going to have to try really, really hard not to give spoilers.



This is the 18th Rutledge novel. Can you believe it? If it seems like hardly any time has passed since the beginning of the series, it is in large part because the novels are so gripping. But it is also because little time has passed for Ian Rutledge. Remember we were talking about fluid time with Glen Erik Hamilton the other day, and of how writers must make a decision about how to handle time in a series? A Test of Wills takes place in June of 1919, when Rutledge, suffering from PTSD, takes up the job he held before the war as a detective with Scotland Yard. No Shred of Evidence has moved forward to the autumn of 1920. Less than a year and a half has elapsed. (For a recent reference, the last episodes of Downton Abbey take place in 1924.) So that is my first question for Caroline and Charles: did you decide, at the beginning of the series, that time would move very slowly? It gives the series a great immediacy, almost as if we were living Rutledge's life along with him.

The book takes place in northern Cornwall, and oh, golly, do I wish a map was included in the book! I was too engrossed in the story (the binge read) to stop and look up the geography, but I did afterwards. The sense of place is so strong I find myself thinking about the village as if I'd been there. Why Cornwall, Caroline and Charles? And why this particular part of Cornwall? 

And I realize there's probably no easy answer to this, but how do you manage to imagine the setting so realistically as it was then? (Other than time travel, of course...)


The village (is it a real place?) is just there, near Rock and Padstow.

I can't say too much about the plot, but I will tell you that there is a fun twisty-turny time thing. The previous book, A Fine Summer's Day (which I adored) takes us back to 1914, the summer before the beginning of the war. We see Ian Rutledge as he was before the horrors of the trenches damaged him so badly, and there is an almost unbearable suspense in the fact that we know what is coming. We also meet Rutledge's fiance, Jean, and her cousin, a young woman named Kate Gordon. Kate is a strong and engaging character and I hoped to see her again. She is indeed back in No Shred of Evidence, one of the four young women accused of murder. There's an obvious affinity between Ian Rutledge and Kate.  
Are we allowed to hope that Rutledge might be allowed to find some personal happiness, Caroline and Charles? Alas, I fear that life can't run too smoothly for our fictional heroes and heroines, but I can't wait to see what happens next. Any hints?

I have to tell a little story on Caroline. When she told me she'd arrived home from Phoenix with a horrible case of the flu, she said, "It's given me a whole new perspective on the Spanish flu..." I think that's taking research a bit too far, Caroline! Armchair only, next time, please!

Readers, please stop and chat with Caroline and Charles in the comments. And join us at JRW in wishing Caroline a huge GET WELL SOON!

41 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Caroline, here's wishing you a speedy recovery.
I agree, Debs, it's hard to believe this is the eighteenth story in the Ian Rutledge series. And after reading your review, I can't wait to read this one myself . . . having Kate return is going to be a real treat.

Anonymous said...

Sounds fabulous and the historical mysteries are turning out to be some of my favorites. Please enter me in the Contest. Thank you for the review and so sorry you have the flu...
Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

Hallie Ephron said...

So excited to have Caroline/"Charles Todd" on Jungle Red - I am a huge fan. I'd love to know their secret for turning out so regularly (do they ever miss a deadline?) such gorgeously written and thoroughly researched novels.

FChurch said...

Caroline, I hope the flu is gone--and not just because I am eagerly awaiting (already) the 19th sortie in this series. I love Ian! Usually I don't have a clear image of a character in my mind when I read, but Ian looks suspiciously like Leslie Howard to me. Also, I agree with Deborah--whenever a new Rutledge comes out, I am immersed in time and setting--are you sure you and Charles don't have a 'vanishing cabinet'? And finally, I adore Frances and want to know if she's ever going to become involved in one of Ian's cases?

Gram said...

A wonderful series. Be well soon.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

So sorry to hear you're sick Caroline, hope this passes soon! (Do you and Debs wonder as I always do, who the patient zero was?? It's enough to make a person want to stay home.) I love Hallie's question about the secret to writing like clockwork--with none of the books feeling as though you've phoned something in...

I'm way behind on this series, but Debs has kick-started my urge to get back to reading!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

OH, dear Caroline, get better soon! And yes, only you would look on the brightest possible side and see it as flu research. Get well soon!

To let your brain rest, we should only ask easy questions, like, what are you having for lunch. (Or, are you even hungry? Poor thing…) Bit if you are up to answering--as we've chatted about in the past, I love Rutledge. With a crush that's almost over the top.

I do want him to be happy. But if he's happy, does Hamish disappear?

And FLora, so terrific..but I see Gregory Peck. xoxoxoxo

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Get well soon, Caroline (if I may)! Hope to meet in person someday! Huge fan of your work and like Hank, have a crush on Rutledge.

Deb Romano said...

Caroline, do get better soon! People I know who have had this flu bug have been quite ill; I am so sorry that you ended up being one of them.

I've read all the Bess Crawford books and despite my intentions to read the Ian Rutledge books, I've not yet started. I love Bess so I'm sure I will love Ian once I get started. (At least I know I have something great to look forward to!)

It always amazes me that two people are writing these books! Do you bounce ideas off each other?

Margaret Turkevich said...

Just started your book. Perfect timing. Delighted that Rutledge is showing signs of coping with his trauma...I wonder if "recovery" is too optimistic a word. I'm curious about Hamish's voice. Did you research how he would have spoken?

I'm enjoying the sense of place in the book and all the facts about the river and tides.

Brenda Buchanan said...

I am so overdue to get into this series. Thank you for featuring it and Caroline (who I hope is on the mend) today. I heard Caroline and Charles speak last year at Malice and was entranced, and have been saving a couple of the books in this series that I bought there up for a binge-read bonanza. I think the time is nigh!

Kristopher said...

I am very sad that I missed the Phoenix Left Coast Crime, but hearing of all the folks who returned with illness, I will at least let missing that part of the experience be some solace.

The Todds are masters of the historical mystery. I do wonder if they ever feel the urge to write something with a modern setting?

I have a copy of NO SHRED OF EVIDENCE on my nightstand, so please exclude me from the drawing. I hope that the winner is a new reader to this wonderful series!

Feel better Caroline. I hope to see you at Malice!

Mary Sutton said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery, Caroline.

I'm amazed enough when someone can immerse me in a another place well, but to also do it in another time is doubly amazing.

libbydodd@comcast.net said...

I very much enjoy both of the series.
What a marvelous gift to portray the past with such a sense of life!

Denise Ann said...

Eager to read this book!! Love the series. I spent a wonderful vacation in Cornwall (around 1993) with two daughters. So magical! We stayed in an old hunting lodge where there had previously been cock fighting. Loved the atmosphere. And we stayed in a modern hotel in Falmouth. The hunting lodge was my favorite.

Rhys said...

Dear Caroline, wishing you a speedy recovery.
ARgnd some looking forward to having time to read the new book. Maybe on the plane tomorrow.
Cornwall is a magical place and dear to my heart as we spend time every summer with John's sister in a 14th century manor house there. I always feel as if I've stepped out of time and the cares of the world have fallen from my shoulders. Pasties and clotted cream ice cream. Mmmmmm.

caroline said...

Caroline herewith aborrowed puter with arubberkeyboard!Notused to the finger pressuresyet!Thank you for the good wishes. We had sucha great time atPoisoned Pen and on to LC. But theflu was a real surprise to all of us. Asfor Cornwall,it is one of our favorite places. I fellin love with it through Daphne du Maurier's books,Poldark,etc. longbefore I ever crossed the Tamar. The chance to set our own mysteries there, starting with Wingsof Fire, was such a thrill--anda challenge becausewe had such big boots to follow.Itcan be scary.Like Deb settning abook in Glastonbury.But you do your best and youhope your skills areup toit!

Kay said...

I am so sorry that you guys came home with the flu from LCC. I was there as well, but I'm counting myself so very lucky to have missed it. There were certainly a lot of people with scratchy throats and cups of tea toward the end I noticed. My best wishes for quick healing.

I am behind on both series, but I'll catch up at some point or maybe I'll just skip over because the synopsis of this book sounds wonderful. I love any book set in Cornwall - all the way from reading my first Victoria Holt book when I was 13 - BRIDE OF PENDORRIC. Isn't there a rhyme or something that talks about the names in Cornwall - Tre, Pol, Pen names. Thanks for keeping us entertained for so many years.

Caroline said...

Some of you have been to Cornwall--I enjoyed your accounts! We have two Cornish friends. And we were afraid to ask what they think. Jeremy,bless him,is Rutledge fan,and on Sat.he told us SHRED passed his test with flyng colors. Important because he knows the places so well. He could from memory follow every step. And he goes back often. Waitingfor the other report. But this really goes beyond pleasing a friend. More than anything you owe your readers a genuine experience. So the research has to be real.Deb and I talk a lot about researching anothercountry. It takes a lot of work to find the right info. Then--you have to use it well! But you can feel the difference when you start writiing andit is there at your finger tips!

Deborah Crombie said...

Hi Caroline! Hope you are feeling better today! I fell in love with Cornwall through the same books (and the original Poldark series on TV) and have visited but not in much too long.

The county always seemed wild and wooly to me. Not like manicured England. The Wild West:-)

And then there are the Arthurian connections. It's all so rich in story telling. Were you inspired by any story in particular with this book?

Caroline said...

No social life.Just kidding!It takes a lot of discipline, and we sort of keep after each other,because one can't go forward unless we are on the same scene.That helps alot. And I find once I get into a ms.that I can't stop for long. The creative juices keep flowing, and I want to see where my ideas are going,how they mesh with Charles's and then what new direction they may lead to next. I think he must feel the same drive, because he's all set to go forwardtoo. Keeps life exciting when you get call at2am with a voice saying, WAKEUP! I need to talk about this while it is fresh!

Pat D said...

I raced through Rutledge's latest case. Love the man. Weren't we just talking about reading speeds? It is hard to slow down when I want to know what happens next! Anyway I am a big fan of this series and hope to see Ian with a love interest again. Soon. Has Frances married yet? I remember her telling big brother a book or two back that she found someone. Get well soon Caroline.

Julia said...

No question; just popping in to say how much I love the Rutledge series and hoping Caroline recovers soon!

drpff said...

I love this series! I feel that you describe the scenes so well I could be there myself. Ian is a complex person. Will he ever find love and/peace?

Lisa Alber said...

Oh, Caroline -- I hope you get well soon. I landed the LCC flu also. I'm just starting to feel like I've got some energy again--I need to get back to the writing!

I need to cop to this right here, right now: I've never read an Ian Rutledge mystery. I know -- it that crazy or what?! Just a lack of time, which we were talking about just yesterday. But I do need to remedy this gap. Ian Rutledge sounds like a wonderful character.

Toni Gould said...

I so love this series and am so looking forward to reading "No Shred of Evidence"! I think Inspector Rutledge, though a fictional character, has done a great deal to expand awareness of the terrible toll of World War I. Like most other readers, I suspect, I'd like to think Rutledge will, at some point, find personal peace and comfort. Thanks to Caroline and Charles for bringing Inspector Rutledge to life through this outstanding series!

Susan said...

I have not read this series, but this enthusiastic group of fans has convinced me to start. It's funny, I am not by nature drawn to historical novels -- quite the opposite in fact. But assuming I eventually find I love this as much as everyone else here does, it won't be the first time that I've finally put aside that bias only to find a wonderful series. Maybe it's time to rethink that bias.

Ann in Rochester said...

It was so exciting to be introduced to you and Caroline at LCC by Deb! And better yet to get you both to sign my Kindle. But best of all was hearing Caroline reading that very bad erotica on the Sex Panel! Especially when she looked up and said, "Charles, would you please leave the room?"

Now I can dive into your next book and put a face on Inspector Rutledge. I know he looks exactly like you Charles. So handsome.

Anonymous said...

Diane Hale here.

It was such a pleasure getting to spend time with both you and Charles at LCC! I've been a fan of Bess and Ian for years. The new book sounds fascinating.

I'm adding my wishes for a speedy recovery. Just don't get too ambitious when you start feeling better--this bug doesn't let go easily.

Deborah Crombie said...

Ann, the SEX panel was the highlight of the weekend! I was so disappointed none of my photos came out! (Bad memory card in camera:-() Caroline did the best reading hands-down!

Deborah Crombie said...

Susan, the books are just great story-telling and great characters. I promise you will love them! But I think I'd start at the beginning.

Other Rutledge fans, do you agree?

And Caroline?

Maria said...

Definitely start at the beginning!! I'm way behind. I work at a bookstore where I feel obligated to read lots of ARCs and other books I may not always want to read. (I am NOT complaining!) I save the special series, like this one and Deborah's, to read after I hit a patch of awful books. I'm due for one right now! Please enter me in the drawing.

Caroline, please take good care of yourself and don't overdo it, no matter how much better you feel or how tempting it is.

Deborah, thank you for your enthusiasm for other good writers. You've introduced me to several. I will forever be in your debt for the other Deborah's books.

David Squires said...

Would love to start a new series. Please enter me in your drawing.

Kathy Reel said...

I have long been fascinated with the Cornwall area of England, and it and Devon, where my ancestors hail from, are the two areas I most want to visit and spend time in on an England trip. So, No Shred of Evidence sounds especially inviting.

Every year I choose a series to start and catch up on that I've been wanting to read forever. I was going with Ian Rutledge or Bess Crawford this January when my husband had his accident and my reading schedule was obliterated. So, my new goal is to make a start on both series. I have A Duty to the Dead for Bess, and I have A Test of Wills and A Fine Summer's Day for Ian. Even with catching up on ARCs and reviewing, I know I'll be able to finally begin my Charles Todd journey of reading. Caroline, do you think it would be okay to read A Fine Summer's Day first for Ian, since it is a background story?

So sorry that you have had the ugly flu, Caroline. Hate to think of you or Debs sick. And, I have heard that this bug deceives you into thinking you are further recovered than you are, so please continue to take it easy and look after yourself.


Karen in Ohio said...

Caroline, I am wishing for your instant return to good health.

My introduction to yours and Charles's work was at Malice a few years ago. Naturally, I was hooked! I recently read A FINE SUMMER'S DAY, getting chills at the two simultaneous engagements.

I can't think of a better way to spend time with an offspring than to devote years to your kind of creative endeavor. How lucky for you both, in so many ways.

Kathy Reel said...

Oh, Caroline, I meant to say that I love your Web site. It's so beautifully done and easy to navigate. My favorite aspect is that when you click on a book to read more about it, you get a listing of all the books thus far in the series, with pictures of the covers.

Deborah Crombie said...

Hmm, Kathy... My feeling is that you should read A Test of Wills first. Then A Fine Summer's Day. And then you can read No Shred of Evidence. But that is assuming that after reading A Test of Wills, you can resist reading the entire series straight through:-)

Kristopher said...

I too think A Test of Wills needs to be read first. After that, I think it's up to the reader if they want to go in order, but that first book in this case is too much of a groundwork thing to skip. Also, A Fine Summer's Day will have more poignancy if read after A Test of Wills.

SEMSLibraryLady said...

I love this series! In fact, I became friends with a co-worker when I saw her reading an earlier book in the series during lunch. It was our first connection!

I hope you are both on the mend soon.

Mary

Kathy Reel said...

Thank you both so much, Debs and Kristopher. I will do as you say. I want to read all of them, of course, but I will read A Test of Wills, then A Fine Summer's Day, then the rest of the series.

rhonda said...

Hope your feeling better.My brother and I love your books look forward to each new adventure,