Friday, February 3, 2017

Review of "Proof of Guilt" by Charles Todd




There are no shortage of potential crimes in this Inspector Rutledge mystery. An unidentified body washes ashore in Sussex; another unidentified body is found on a Chelsea street; Lewis French - a London wine merchant with the company French, French, and Traynor- is missing; and his partner Matthew Traynor - based on the Portuguese island of Madeira - can't be located.

Inspector Rutledge, tasked with looking into these incidents, interviews the wine company's chief clerk, Lewis's sister, Lewis's ex-fiance, Lewis's current fiance, a Portuguese national who hates the French family and was recently released from an asylum, and other witnesses as necessary.

One problem with this book is too many suspects who are hard to keep track of. Another problem is Inspector Rutledge driving back and forth, here and there - it seems like a thousand times - to interview the same people over and over again. This results in a very slow moving story.

And it bothered me that Acting Chief Superintendent Markham insists that Rutledge arrest a couple of suspects though there is no actual proof they are guilty (I think this is a common occurrence in books set in a certain era). And most unfortunately all this rigmarole does not lead to a believable and satisfying conclusion. I usually like Charles Todd's books but this one is a miss.

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