Reviewed by Caleb Shadis
A Fine Summer’s Day is the 17th book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries. It goes back in the past before the war (and the 16 other stories) and gives us a look at Ian before the war changed him. It was a good book and a very interesting mystery; I’m glad it was written to add to Ian’s story.
Inspector Rutledge is still learning how best to interact with his boss, Chief Superintendent Bowles, who likes all cases to be closed as quickly as possible, with a nice clean acceptable explanation. This means that he’s not always particular about the guilty person being put on trial. This doesn’t sit well with Ian who expects to find the guilty party, not the most convenient scapegoat available.
Ian has also just proposed to the woman he has been seeing, Jean Gordon. Her father is a retired Major in the Army. Ian proposed on the day that Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated. So throughout the summer, the tension of the possible impending war is building.
The Chief sends Rutledge to Moresby to look into a questionable death–a man is found hung in his home and it’s clear that this is no case of suicide. But he was a well liked man and no one can think of a reason anyone would want him dead. The local constable, against Ian’s wishes, arrests a man for the deed more because of his past than because of any evidence against him. As expected, this is good enough for Bowles who summarily sends Rutledge on to another case. Another case that turns out to be another questionable death with no reason for the apparent suicide. When the third man dies under similar circumstances, a red flag begins to fly briskly in Rutledge’s vision.
Other than living near Bristol at some point in the last 20 years, none of the men appear to have any connection to each other financially, socially, or even geographically. There are a couple other recent incidents that when looked at in the right light make a convincing theory. Well, convincing to anyone except Chief Bowles.
Inspector Rutledge has to dance around Bowles in order to save an innocent man, while finding proof of the real culprit. At the same time, he wants to keep his new and naive fiance happy, despite having to leave her alone as he drives all over the countryside looking for clues and his suspect.
We learn a lot about Ian and it ties in well with how the Bess Crawford stories relate, much more explicitly than in any other book. We only get a little glimpse of Hamish at the beginning and then again at the end of the book. I had my reservations about this book, but they were unfounded. This was an excellent addition to the series and even opened the possibility of a cross series book with Bess. Great book, good mystery and although the ending was a little too neat, it’s definitely worth a read!
Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.