Monday, February 4, 2013

TLC Book Review - Proof of Guilt

Proof of Guilt by Charles Todd
HarperCollins 2013

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Proof of Guilt from the publisher via TLC Book Tours; however, the review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Format? oversized paperback - ARC

Title? I don't seemed to me that Rutledge spent most of the novel trying to prove innocence rather than guilt.  At the end when the puzzle finally began to make a little sense and Rutledge had a specific target, then and only then did I feel Rutledge was looking for proof of guilt.

Cover? meh...a train track obviously...through the English countryside and an old church...or abbey that's been closed

Why?  I love this kind of historical mysteryish fiction...and I LOVED the Bess Crawford installment I read a while back by the same authors.  I thought Proof of Guilt would be an easy pick for me.

What Now? Honestly, I'm going to give this one to one of my colleagues this week while I'm in Boston or leave it in my hotel room for someone else to try :(  I'm very sad.  I truly expected to love Proof of Guilt.
I did break my law about reading series books out of order, so I can't help but wonder if that was part of my problem with this read?

Golden Lines

The young Scottish corporal had not wanted to die.  But he would not lead his men back into the teeth of a German machine-gun nest when they'd lost so many already in futile attempts to silence it.  Rutledge had wanted to spare him - but his corporal's very public refusal had left him no options.  The claustrophobia he'd endured since then had been nearly unbearable.  Nor had he been able to free himself of Hamish or that memory. (38)

"What will become of you, if he marries and brings a bride home?"
Tears stood in her eyes.  "He's not that mean.  I'll have a home.  He's told me so.  For as long as I live." (83)

She considered him.  "Do you really think I could have killed anyone?" Her voice began to shake at the start, and then she brought it under control.
"Sadly, for the police there is nothing that marks a murderer.  Nothing that allows us to look at you and know whether you are guilty or innocent."
"I've killed no one," she said huskily.  "Please go.  Please." (137)

Mrs. Bennett was completely blind to the truth, to what these men were and what they were capable of.  Rutledge wondered how her staff viewed her - as a gullible fool they could manipulate or as someone who believed in them. (208)

He stayed with her through the Magistrate's Court, where she was remanded to Holloway, and the last things he saw were her wide eyes as she was led away, half hidden by the prison matron who had taken her in charge. (286-287)

Where the hell was Lewis French? (324)


A unidentified dead man is found in the middle of the road, the victim of what looks to be a motorcar accident.  Two other men are missing, the heads of two families known for the production of Madeira wine in Portugal.  Ian Rutledge from Scotland Yard investigates the accident and has a myriad of suspects to choose from.  But, which suspect is a true lead, and what is the true story behind the dead man's identity and the disappearance of two wealthy men...and how do they all connect...or do they?  Battling his boss's need for swift closure, whether or not the suspects are truly guilty, Rutledge perseveres against all odds, digging below the surface to find an answer buried deep in the past.

What I Liked

The snippets about Rutledge's time at war and the effects he brought home with him...these are randomly interspersed but added just enough depth to keep me going.

old Mr. Belford - the most likeable fella in the entire story for me.

Rutledge's sister Frances...I wish I could've gotten to know her better.

The Bennett home - now this was a plotline I could have really dug into, especially the buried secret. :p

What I Didn't Like

Hamish MacLeod "speaking" to Rutledge from the dead.  I wonder how much of a role this character played in the earlier novels and if I would have felt differently about his "psychic presence" with Rutledge throughout the novel.  It felt silly to me...especially after a while.  The reader is given a brief intro/reminder of Hamish, but it's not enough to truly care about this character who is obviously still a large part of Rutledge's life.  

Too many characters with minute connections...I never could keep them all straight...ever.  I pushed past pg. 50, then 100, but then finally by pg. 250, I gave up on trying to understand everything.  I kept reading with just the slimmest of hopes that it would all come together for me.  It never did.  Proof of Guilt should have been a DNF for me, but my evil "must finish" monster made me keep going.

Lewis French - what a hateful man...even though we never actually get to meet him :(  

Rutledge's reporting trips to Markham...Markham was another dislikeable character...and while there was certainly tension between Markham and Rutledge, I just didn't feel like all this attention and dialogue was necessary.  It almost felt like "busywork" to me.

The women - I felt sorry for Agnes a point, but then I wanted to slap her.  I actually liked Valerie Whitman the most because she didn't try to hide from the gossip caused by French's decision not to marry her.  I liked Mary Townsend the least, however of really no fault of her own.  She was the woman who was to become the dutiful wife.  Of course, this was the role she was groomed for, and she didn't know any better, but good grief, she was French's fiancee' and knew nothing about him really, least of which his whereabouts...and that didn't really concern her.  She was worried about him when she realized he was actually missing, but she didn't even think it was strange that she hadn't seen or heard from in a while.  She was going to be his wife for crying out loud.  Who are these people??

Overall Recommendation

I don't usually give negative recommendations because I pick out the books I want to read based on my interest areas.  I'd rather not read a book that there's a chance I won't like.  Life is entirely too short for that. I can't recommend Proof of Guilt to those who have not read the earlier books in this series.  Just to give the series a fair shake, I'm going to back up and at least read Book 1 in this series, A Test of Wills.

The Author

Charles Todd

Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, January 29th: 5 Minutes for Books
Wednesday, January 30th: Bookfoolery and Babble
Thursday, January 31st: A Bookworm’s World
Monday, February 4th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, February 5th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, February 6th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, February 7th: Between the Covers
Monday, February 11th: Dwell in Possibility
Tuesday, February 12th: Short and Sweet Reviews
Wednesday, February 13th: I Read a Book Once
Monday, February 18th: Speaking of Books
Friday, Februay 20th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog


  1. I only read one book by Charles Todd, but the whole Hamish thing was too much for me! I agree it would be better if Hamish wasn't such a paranormal sort of presence (at least I think that's what you are saying!) :--)

    1. That's exactly what I meant! It was just too weird :(

  2. Oh too bad Patti, I like this author generally. Boston....only 80 or so miles away from us. Have fun.

    1. Diane, I was really surprised bc I really liked the Bess Crawford :/ It is FREEZING in Boston :p

  3. I don't think I would like this one. I am not much into the thriller genre, and the fact that Hamish talks back from the netherworld would be too much for me. I am probably going to pass on this one, but did enjoy your perceptions and honest thoughts on this tale.

    1. It was definitely too much for me, Heather :(

  4. I didn't take this one because I hadn't read the earlier and I went into Bess Crawford in the middle and got all mixed up. Some series you can do that but I feel that with these authors you cannot.

    1. I've learned my lesson, Patty :/ I am though going to read the first one just to see if it changes my mind.

  5. I very much appreciate your candid review ~ i've seen this one around and wondered if it would be one I would enjoy. It's in the genre I love, but for some reason the info about it just didn't "speak" to me....glad to know it wasn't just me. I look forward to hearing what you have to say about the first one :-)

    1. I truly thought I would like it. I'm anxious to give the first one a try too...hopefully I'll get some things cleared up :/

  6. I want to give this series a shot since I really am enjoyed the Bess Crawford books by this same author.

    Thanks for being on the tour.