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Extended Audio Sample A Test of Wills Audiobook, by Charles Todd Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.78 out of 53.78 out of 53.78 out of 53.78 out of 53.78 out of 5 3.78 (18 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Todd Narrator: Samuel Gillies Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Inspector Rutledge Mysteries Release Date: August 1996 ISBN: 9781470333492
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It’s 1919, and the “War to End All Wars” has been won. But there is no peace for Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge, recently returned from the battlefields of France shell-shocked and tormented by the ever-present voice of the young Scot he had executed for refusing an order. Escaping into his work to save his sanity, Rutledge investigates the murder of a popular colonel in Warwickshire and his alleged killer, a decorated war hero and close friend of the Prince of Wales.

The case is a political minefield, and its resolution could mean the end of Rutledge’s career. Win or lose, the cost may be more than the damaged investigator can bear, for the one witness who can break the case open is, like Rutledge, a war-ravaged victim, and his grim, shattered fate could well prove to be the haunted investigator’s own as well.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “You’re going to love Todd.”

    Stephen King

  • “A first novel that speaks out, urgently and compassionately, for a long-dead generation…Both a meticulously wrought puzzle and a harrowing psychological drama.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “The emotional and physical carnage of World War I is used to remarkable effect in A Test of Wills, an excellent new mystery and, one hopes, the first of a series.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Remarkable…Todd, an American, seems to have perfect pitch in his ability to capture the tenor and nuances of English country life.”

    Kansas City Star

  • “More than an ordinary whodunit, this literate thriller raises disturbing issues of war and peace.”

    San Diego Union-Tribune

  • “Finely crafted…psychologically sophisticated, tautly written, and craftily plotted.”

    San Jose Mercury News

  • “Expert plotting and keen insight into the human psyche [are] hallmarks of this series.”

    Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

  • “A newcomer returns us to the essential pleasure of the well-crafted puzzle in this debut, the absorbing story of a young British WWI veteran returning from the war to his job as a Scotland Yard inspector…Todd depicts the outer and inner worlds of his characters with authority and sympathy as he closes in on his surprising—and convincing—conclusion.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Strong, elegant prose, detailed surroundings, and sound plotting characterize the debut historical…highly recommended.”

    Library Journal

  • “The twentieth century hasn’t happened in Upper Streetham, which seems to have been cast out of Rebecca, or in first-novelist Todd’s deeply old-fashioned storytelling, which eschews the slightest impropriety in favor of the patient subtlety and circumlocution that held readers in thrall seventy years ago. A feast for the like-minded.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “In A Test of Wills, Charles Todd gives us a golden age crime story in its proper historical setting. This is an intelligent, controlled, and well-organized first novel, rich with promise of a bright future.”

    Reginald Hill, author of The Woodcutter

  • “War-wounded Britain in 1919 is beautifully conveyed in an intricately plotted mystery. With this remarkable debut, Charles Todd breaks new ground in the historical crime novel.”

    Peter Lovesey, author of Skeleton Hill

  • “The debut of Charles Todd’s Inspector Ian Rutledge is an auspicious one. In a novel full of complex and believable characters, perhaps the most complex of all the Great War itself, which backlights this mystery with its monumental horrors.”

    Gaylord Dold, author of The Last Man in Berlin

  • Finalist for the 1997 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel
  • Finalist for the 1997 Barry Award for Best First Novel
  • A New York Times Notable Book of 1996
  • A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book of the Year in Mysteries

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 2/12/2014

    " Enjoyed it - thanks Megg! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melanie | 2/12/2014

    " Okay read. I like the Bess Crawford series better. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Russell Collins | 2/3/2014

    " First book in the Ian Rutledge series. Set just after the First World War, an interesting time period. I would read more in this series. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christian Dibblee | 1/19/2014

    " I thought this book was okay. For whatever reason, there wasn't as much taut suspense as I had hoped for, but the character of Rutledge is enough to get me interested in the next installments of the series. I prefer a much more compelling storyline as opposed to characters, but the Todds certainly have some knack for how this is done without going the way of Dorothy Sayers, who portrays an effeminate, flighty protagonist. They are not adverse to dealing with disturbing or controversial subjects, so I'm impressed by that. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy Michael | 1/19/2014

    " I am glad went back and picked this first book of the Ian Rutledge series. After reading one of them out of order..this explains what I missed! I liked this mystery..I was actually surprised by the ending!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana | 1/19/2014

    " My first introduction to Inspector Rutledge. I enjoyed the detective story and the thoughtful ruminations on PTSD/shell shock. I will definitely read more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristi | 11/29/2013

    " I so enjoy the tone of these books and the descriptions of the countryside are wonderful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Merrill | 11/19/2013

    " I really liked this first novel in the Inspector Rutledge series. Big surprise ending. Didn't see it coming at all. Lots of red herrings along the way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gwennie | 11/5/2013

    " Another mystery series set in post WW1 England. Inspector Ian Rutledge is trying to reclaim some semblance of his pre-war life, by returning to his former job at Scotland Yard. Huanted by voices from his past, he must solve a case where the only witness left hiw mind in France. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mike Gillespie | 7/12/2013

    " This left me cold. A great concept with a detective hearing voices but the personalities were not compelling. To me the ending came out of nowhere. Not much of a plot either, just a (very) slow reveal followed by a plot twist towards the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cecilia | 7/6/2013

    " A carefully constructed mystery in the classic mold, but with a twist. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 6/22/2013

    " Did NOT see that coming! Totally surprised me with the final reveal of WhoDunIt - fun, cuz I'm getting better at sussing out the murderers, so it's nice to get to the end and be surprised. Well written, interesting characters, good pacing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard Brand | 5/24/2013

    " These are enjoyable stories. I think they are well written and period pieces after WW I, but this one had to go to a pretty great reach to find a surprise ending, although it was an acceptable solution to all the problems. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kt Thames | 3/12/2013

    " Revisiting a good mystery series that I read quite awhile ago. This is one of the better WWI era mystery series around. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean | 2/3/2013

    " Will read the next one by this author "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 James | 10/26/2012

    " A detective traumatized by the first world war struggles to contain his demons while solving a crime. I found it all a bit contrived and the whole stiff upper lip while I go mad verged on being a parody. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeanne | 10/12/2012

    " i went back to the first book of this series after reading the authors most recent mystery. well crafted and kept me guessing right to the bitter end. and now i can continue on with the series which is always a good experience as the reader watches the development of the characters "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maggie Siegel | 10/6/2012

    " Nice series... I think this is the first...A man who is shell shocked from WWI goes back to work for Scotland yard. One of his supervisors knows he is mentally fragile, and tries to sabotage him. So far, Inspector Rutledge keeps solving the crimes, and healing himself. "

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About the Author
Author Charles Todd

Charles and Caroline Todd, a mother-son writing team, are the New York Times bestselling authors of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. They live in Delaware and North Carolina, respectively.

About the Narrator

Sam Gillies is an experienced audiobook narrator whose titles include A Fearsome Doubt, Legacy of the Dead, Let It Bleed, Wings of Fire, and others.