No Shred of Evidence is the 18th book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries. I find these to be pretty interesting stories where Ian is a good detective and has to deal with the vagaries of political expediency. And where some feel it is more important to close cases than to do the work to actually catch the guilty. In this particular case, he has to deal with angry influential fathers.
A group of four young women are accused of attempting to murder a young man; they claim they were just trying to save him from drowning. There isn’t much evidence one way or the other. The original Scotland yard man sent down to investigate died from a heart attack. So Rutledge was sent to replace him. Only there was no paperwork to be found anywhere among his possessions, not even the original statements given by all the witnesses. Leaving Rutledge at square one.
To make matters more difficult, Kate Gordon is one of the women accused. She was cousin to Rutledge’s fiance from before the war and he has a hard time believing she could be party to a murder. At the same time, he can’t be seen being partial.
The one piece of the story the girls told that was not corroborated was that the dead young man had been in his own boat, and that it sank underneath him. Which is why they girls were trying to rescue him from the water. Rutledge takes it upon himself to have the boat found, if it ever existed.
While finding the boat puts doubt into the eye witness testimony, it also raises some more questions and doesn’t make it a clear cut case. Then someone attacks the vicar. While there is no immediate reason to think the two crimes are tied together, two violent crimes in such a sleepy part of the country is certainly an anomaly. And when a third man is beaten to death in an apparent robbery, Rutledge is sure someone other than the girls is at fault. But he needs to prove it.
This was a very good book. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it since everything seemed stacked against anyone finding the truth. This installment was a little more intense that most of the other ones I’ve read in this series but in the end that made it all the better. I still enjoy reading about Rutledge and this story has a hint of things to come in future books.
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. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.