Charles Todd Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Even though they are Americans, like Elizabeth George and Martha Grimes, the authors who use the pen name Charles Todd write mysteries set in Great Britain with British police officers and characters. The anonymous mother-and-son team who write as Todd established their credentials beginning with A Test of Wills (1996), which follows the series’ central character as he restarts his career as an inspector at Scotland Yard. Severely shell-shocked during his tour of duty in France during World War I, Inspector Rutledge suffers from hearing the voice of Hamish MacLeod, a Scottish corporal under his command whom Rutledge had executed for refusing to obey an order, an order Rutledge knew was going to be suicidal to his men. Todd’s skill in incorporating MacLeod’s monologues into the fabric of Rutledge’s suffering and the details of the plots gives this series a psychological dimension often missing in series crime fiction.

The setting—Great Britain in the immediate aftermath of the war—allows Todd to explore the historical period and the changes bought about by the upheaval of the war and its impact on not only the returning soldiers but also the civilian population. The accuracy of the series’ historical detail, the nuances of the characters’ speech as well as their emotional depth, make the novels remarkable, especially given that they are written by two American authors.

Charles Todd Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Brinson, Claudia Smith. “Through Murder Investigations, Shell-shocked Veteran Reflects on Aftermath of Death, Conflict in A False Mirror.” Review of A False Mirror, by Charles Todd. Knight Ridder Tribune News Service, February 7, 2007, p. 1. Review mentions the history of the series and notes that the mother-and-son team of authors expressed interest in writing about the lasting consequences of war.

Cogdill, Oline H. “Haunted Hero in a Bygone Era.” Review of Legacy of the Dead, by Charles Todd. South Florida Sun-Sentinel, November 5, 2000, p. 13F. Favorable review praises the novel for examining the war’s effects on soldiers and for its depiction of the changes that were occurring in England at the time.

Kinsella, Bridget. “A Mystery Behind a Mystery Is Revealed.” Publishers Weekly 247, no. 37 (September 11, 2000): 24-25. On the publication of the fourth novel in the Rutledge series, it was revealed that Charles Todd was not a single person, but a mother-and-son collaboration. The mother revealed herself to be Caroline Todd, also a pseudonym, but disclosed little else.

Todd, Charles. Charles Todd, Best Selling Mystery Author. Official Web site for mother-and-son team writing as Charles Todd. Provides information on the novels as well as a biography that provides motivation for writing and general biographical details, but no specifics. Identifies the mother as Caroline Todd, but the veracity of the name is in doubt. The pair attend book signings and sign as “Charles Todd.” Contains links to Internet interviews.

Todd, Charles. “Past Mysteries.” The Armchair Detective 30, no. 2 (Spring, 1997): 176-184. Todd discusses the historical mystery.

Winks, Robin W. “The Historical Mystery.” In Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage, edited by Robin W. Winks and Maureen Corrigan. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1998. This comprehensive discussion of the historical mystery was written by a historian and contains a perspective from outside the mystery field. Sheds light on Todd’s work.