A Fearsome Doubt

A Fearsome Doubt

Book - 2002
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Bestselling author Charles Todd has earned a special place among mystery's elite writers with his acclaimed series featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge, a former soldier seeking to lay to rest the demons of his past in the aftermath of World War I. But that past bleeds into the present in a complex murder case that calls into question his own honor...and the crimes committed in the name of God, country, and righteous vengeance.

A Fearsome Doubt

In 1912 Ian Rutledge watched as a man was condemned to hang for the murders of elderly women. Rutledge helped gather the evidence that sent Ben Shaw to the gallows. And when justice was done, Rutledge closed the door on the case. But Shaw was not easily forgotten.

Now, seven years later, that grim trial returns in the form of Ben Shaw's widow Nell, bringing Rutledge evidence she is convinced will prove her husband's innocence. It's a belief fraught with peril, threatening both Rutledge's professional stature and his faith in his judgment. But there is a darker reason for Rutledge's reluctance. Murder brings him back to Kent where, days earlier, he'd glimpsed an all-too-familiar face beyond the leaping flames of a bonfire. Soon an unexpected encounter revives the end of his own war, as the country prepares for a somber commemoration on the anniversary of the Armistice. To battle the unsettled past and the haunted present at the same time is an appalling mandate.

And the people around him? among them the attractive widow of a friend, a remarkable woman who survived the Great Indian Mutiny; a bitter, dying barrister; and a man whose name he never knew--unwittingly compete with the grieving Nell Shaw. They'll demand more than Rutledge can give, unaware that he is already carrying the burden of shell shock? and the voice of Hamish MacLeod, the soldier he was forced to execute in the war. The killer in Marling is surprisingly adept at escaping detection. And Ben Shaw's past is a tangle of unsettling secrets that may or may not be true. Rutledge must walk a tortuous line between two murderers...one reaching out to ruin him, the other driven to destroy him.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 2002
ISBN: 9780553583175
Branch Call Number: Suspense F Tod


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The authors are a bit too self conscious in the depiction of British class and rural life. I am also getting a bit tired of Hamish's constant interpretations. Good plot but tired writing.

Aug 09, 2017

Another intricately told story with compelling characters. I was brought up short by another outlandish coincidence (as I was in the story set in Scotland -- Legacy of the Dead.) And for a book as long as this, it seemed to end abruptly. Recommended for Todd fans and those looking for a mystery you need to pay attention as you read, but it leaves a few threads hanging.

Jul 06, 2016

I am trying to read the entire series, and have almost finished. Every one evokes a sense of Britain after The Great War, and clues to how the chemistry of the poison gasses used in that war have left us with a legacy of chemical pollution that may be our doom on this planet. I will be reading the Bess Crawford series next. Other authors pale when compared to Charles Todd and Eliot Pattison.

Library_Dragon May 02, 2014

If you're reading this series in order, this book is easily the best of them so far.


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