Q & A with Charles and Caroline Todd

A FINE SUMMER’S DAY by Charles Todd (Charles and Caroline) is being billed as a prequel to the Ian Rutledge series. But it is much more than that, as the authors put the readers right in the middle of the hysteria involved with 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 is 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.

Elise Cooper: What kind of research did you do for this story?

The Todds: We wanted to show war without any political or historical commentary from those who studied the causes in later decades. We looked at newspapers of the times and letters written to capture the individual experiences.

Elise: Since this plot is pre-Hamish, do you think Ian was a better detective before or after the war?

The Todds: The guilt from Hamish made him a better detective. Remember Hamish is Rutledge but from a different side. It is still Ian’s brain. With Hamish Ian is challenged, knowing that Hamish survives only if Ian survives.

Elise: Jean seems so superficial. Do you agree?

The Todds: Yes. She slighted Ian after he came back from the war with shell shock. She left him, moved to Canada, married a diplomat, and later died in childbirth. Her personality was typical of a lot of young women at that time, without a lot of depth and spoiled by her parents. She measured herself with regard to her friends, always wanting to keep up appearances, almost the direct opposite of her friend Kate who is also beautiful and charming.

Elise: A very powerful quote from the book, “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.” Please explain.

The Todds: Ian is the voice of reality. He was not swept up in that mad rush. He had no illusions since as a policeman he had seen dead bodies.

Elise: Jean seemed to goad Ian to enlist. Is that why he finally did it?

The Todds: At first he saw himself not as a soldier but as a policeman who had a responsibility to solve this case. What pushed Ian to fight in the war was not Jean, but his sense of duty. 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 there was the need for good officers who could command men.

Elise:  Can you give a heads up about your next book?

The Todds: The title is A PATTERN OF LIES. We took a situation that actually happened and made it fictional. It will be a Bess Crawford book where she is on her own without Simon or her parents. It is a look at how people react in the aftermath of a devastating incident, in this case a massive explosion. It will be a psychological thriller.

Elise: THANK YOU!!