A Fine Summer’s Day by Charles Todd is being billed as a prequel to the Ian Rutledge series. But it is much more that that, as the authors put the readers right in the middle of the hysteria about going to war at the beginning of the 20th Century. Intermingled with World War I facts is the backstory of Ian Rutledge, examining who he was before the war.
The story’s timing occurs just before World War I begins, in June 1914. While most are focused on the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo, Rutledge is concentrating on a case involving a series of murders across England, which are seemingly unconnected. He is also pre-occupied with his engagement to Jean Gordon, someone whom he dearly loves despite the reservations of his friends and family.
Readers get a clearer picture of Jean’s personality before the war began. She is seen as superficial, which creates an understanding of why she slighted him after he came back from the war with shell shock. The authors show her as having a personality without a lot of depth and spoiled by her parents. She measured herself with regard to her friends, always wanting to keep up appearances. Jean is almost the direct opposite of her friend Kate who is also beautiful and charming, but who is someone readers can like.
Through the character’s eyes the authors show how people at that time were swept up in the glory of war. The Todds noted to blackfive.net, “We put this quote in the book by Ian who is the voice of reality, ‘And now everyone was mad for war. As if the excitement was all they saw… It’s not all parades and bands and uniforms, it’s cruelty and misery and destruction.’ He was not swept up in that mad rush. He had no illusions since as a policeman he had seen dead bodies. At first he saw himself not as a soldier but as a policeman who had a duty to solve this case. While working on the case he placed his obligation as a policeman before his duty of King and Country. After solving the case he enlisted because he felt he was needed. Britain was pressed for men considering the massive German army, and needed good officers who could command men.”
A Fine Summer’s Day is a gripping novel that captures people’s thoughts and experiences regarding the pre-World War I years. The authors are able to skillfully intermingle this within a very riveting murder mystery. This book is a page-turner that readers will not want to put down.