“No Shred of Evidence” by Charles Todd is a story centered around Scotland Yard Detective Ian Rutledge. This story is definitely plot driven, plunging Rutledge into the world of upper class societal families. With vivid depictions of England during the 1920s readers will feel as if they are taken back in time.
The basic premise of the plot has the entire “murder case” resting upon one eyewitness statement. It becomes a “he said, she said” story when Bradford Trevose accuses four women of murder. They vehemently deny the accusation, insisting that they attempted to rescue a man who called for help as his boat started to sink.
Rutledge is called in to investigate while navigating the concerns and influence of the families of the women, all drawn from England’s upper class, including Kate Gordon. She is someone from his past, last seen six years earlier, who was in love with him.
“Ian is not the bachelor type and wants to be married,” the Todds said. “We suggest things and he sometimes look at us like we are crazy. We will just have to wait and see what happens.”
The second half of the novel spins a sub-plot in the story. Trying to remain neutral he must untangle this mystery and find the real killer. But his job is made more complicated since it appears there is “No Shred of Evidence” to clear the accused. But after a second assault, Rutledge’s inquiry takes an unexpected turn. This nameless killer seems to be invisible to both the local police and townspeople. With slim clues his investigation begins to go in a different direction.
“We’ve always liked to write about a period when a policeman had to detect, to actively work at finding the truth, rather than looking to the lab to support his suspicions,” the Todds said. “This is harder work for us, but more challenging too. Rutledge has been very good at realizing that an inquiry going nowhere might actually mean that there is another possibility that isn’t obvious enough on the surface to be explored.”
Readers are able to understand the time period compared to modern times. The authors explore how perception and someone’s personal agenda can influence their eyewitness story. A very interesting part of the story is how Detective Rutledge must use his skills to sort out the facts without the benefit of the DNA tools of today.
Another emphasis of the time period is how women were regarded. Was the eye- witness’ story believed over the four women because he was a male? It appears women were supposed to be seen, but not heard. They had to follow certain rules and never protest.
As with all their books there are a few scenes about the War. These descriptions allows for a comparison between today’s wounded warriors and those in World War I. The thought-provoking quote tells the story of the wounded, “Shattered bodies, burned or broken or gassed, bloody bandages, so much pain.”
“No Shred of Evidence” tells how an act of mercy turns into a disaster for the four women who tried to be heroes. All of Rutledge’s detective skills are needed to solve the mystery behind a man’s death. Readers are given clues throughout the book as they attempt to put the pieces together with Rutledge.