3.5 star, Uncategorized

Review: A Game of Fear by Charles Todd

Inspector Ian Rutledge #24

In this newest installment of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling series, Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge is faced with his most perplexing case yet: a murder with no body, and a killer who can only be a ghost.

Spring, 1921. Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Rutledge to the sea-battered village of Walmer on the coast of Essex, where amongst the salt flats and a military airfield lies Benton Abbey, a grand manor with a storied past. The lady of the house may prove his most bewildering witness yet. She claims she saw a violent murder—but there is no body, no blood. She also insists she recognized the killer: Captain Nelson. Only it could not have been Nelson because he died during the war.

Everyone in the village believes that Lady Benton’s losses have turned her mind—she is, after all, a grieving widow and mother—but the woman Rutledge interviews is rational and self-possessed. And then there is Captain Nelson: what really happened to him in the war? The more Rutledge delves into this baffling case, the more suspicious tragedies he uncovers. The Abbey and the airfield hold their secrets tightly. Until Rutledge arrives, and a new trail of death follows… 

This was my first time (randomly) picking a book from this series to read. I actually didn’t realize it was part of a series, but like many other long series, they can be read as standalones too (I think). I think I said I would pick less books up randomly, but luckily this one did not come back to bite me.

A Game of Fear revolves around our protagonist Inspector, Ian Rutledge, who investigates an interesting murder… a murder with no body. Or really any evidence at all, for that matter. Set in 1921 in the small village of Walmer, we get a historical into the look of what happened to the town during and after war, and how that all may be culminating into the current mystery. Is there really a ghost in Walmer?

This was definitely an interesting premise, even if the setting wasn’t exactly my favourite. Considering the driving force of the plot, I was definitely interested in how it would come together in the end. After all, how could someone witness a murder right outside their house but leave not a single trace? As the whole plot unravels and more things come to light, very slowly does the truth down on us. It was a good plot in the sense that it wasn’t just one small linchpin that unraveled everything; there was a series of situations that built up to the current one. Kudos to the author for that one, since it can be really disappointing when it was really the tiniest detail that unraveled the plot.

The characters (who were new to me, though inevitably not new to those who have read the other books) were interesting and fairly in depth. Their actions were also consistent with their characters and generally found that to be a satisfying part of the book. There were quite a number of characters though, so it was a bit of a learning curve to get use to them in the beginning. That being said, they were an integral part of the plot, and they were definitely well executed.

The ending was fairly satisfying for a mystery novel too. It wasn’t anything that blew me away, but it was pretty good! Overall this was a pretty good book and I enjoyed reading it. It’s not my usual style of mystery that I like to read, but if you’re looking for this historical Scottish time period and enjoy following a Scotland Yard Inspector and all its idiosyncrasies, you may really enjoy this one.

Overall Recommendations

A Game of Fear follows Scotland Yard Inspector, Ian Rutledge, as he investigates a most mysterious murder in a small town in Wales. A murder was witnessed, but no evidence remains of the body. As he unravels more of the history of the town, more and more mysteries start to emerge. Just what has taken place in this town, and are the townspeople hiding something? Taking place in 1921, following closely after the war, if you enjoy mysteries with the heavy weight of this setting and time period, this book may be for you!

2 thoughts on “Review: A Game of Fear by Charles Todd”

  1. Interesting review—I’d definitely be frightened if I not only observed a murder myself but noticed an absence of any remains or evidence at the scene. That seems like something out of a Junji Ito novel, and I’d never heard of this story before but this review has certainly piqued my interest!

    Liked by 1 person

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