THE RED DOOR – Charles Todd

Charles Todd’s THE RED DOOR is one of the best in the twelve book series. Walter Teller, a missionary in China and Africa and a chaplain in WWI, is suddenly stricken with a paralysis. He is taken to an exclusive clinic in London where his wife, his brothers, Edwin and Peter, and their wives wait for some sign of improvement. The doctors are stymied and the family fears that Walter is dying. Then, as suddenly as the paralysis came on, it disappears and so does Walter. Ian Rutledge is assigned another impossible task: find Walter Teller before the press learns of his disappearance. The Tellers are not a family to be discussed in the press.

As Rutledge begins what he believes will be a fruitless search, Walter reappears with no memory of where he has been.

In Lancashire, a woman has been waiting two years for the return of her husband from the war.  In an effort to do something special to welcome him home, she has painted the front door a brilliant red, a beacon for him as he returns.  Now she is dead, brutally murdered.  Rutledge is sent to the village of Hobson because the dead woman is Florence Teller whose husband was named Peter. Somehow, in some way, Florence is tied to one of the brothers who has been living a lie with a wife in London.

THE RED DOOR is the story of the visible and invisible wounds left by the war. It is the story of money, class, privilege, inheritance, and secrets. And it is the story of the destruction of a powerful family,  victims of the control exerted by their father from beyond the grave.

I liked THE RED DOOR for all the reasons that many other reviewers didn’t. Rutledge is changing. Hamish is ever present but his voice is more hushed. The twelve books in the series represent a year in Rutledge’s life and he is moving slowly back to the people who love him and whom he loves. He is becoming less a victim of the war and more a survivor of the carnage.

I eagerly await book thirteen..

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5 Responses to THE RED DOOR – Charles Todd

  1. Looks like a great read. And where to start? Here or at book 1? Thanks for the recommendation.


    • Beth says:

      Charles Todd (a Caroline and Charles, a mother and son team) are American authors. Caroline lives in North Carolina and Charles lives in Delaware but, as with Martha Grimes, it is hard to believe that they are not natives of England.

      Their descriptions of life immediately after the war ended in 1918 seem authentic. But, most importantly, Ian Rutledge seems to be everything that one would expect an officer in the war to be. Trench warfare took such a toll on both sides that neither side resorted to it in WWII.

      I always think that it is best to start a series from the beginning; this is especially true in the Rutledge series because Ian is so damaged psychologically. The first book is set in June, 1919 after Rutledge has been released from a hospital where he was treated for shell-shock, PTSD. Rutledge was an officer in the Battle of the Somme and, as an officer, he had to order the execution of a soldier who refused to follow a direct order into battle. In Rutledge’s mind, this soldier is always with him. Rutledge has released his fiancee from ther promise to marry him when he realizes that she is afraid of the man he has become. He returns to work at Scotland Yard, seven months after the war ended. His immediate supervisor, Chief Superintendent Bowles, has hated everything about Rutledge since before the war. If the war didn’t break him, Bowles is going to do what he can to put Rutledge is situations that he hopes will finish the job.

      None of the above is a spoiler. It is background that can be found anywhere the Rutledge books are mentioned. Michelle, if you read the reviews on Amazon,, you will find some that really pan THE RED DOOR because people started with that book. The author gives enough information in THE RED DOOR for people to follow the plot and Rutledge but there isn’t nearly enough for someone to understand either without the background that the authors have been filling in over the course of the series.

      So, definitely start with book one. There is a thirteenth book due to be published in the beginning of 2011. If the authors continue the pattern they have set, and I certainly hope they do, the next book should be set in July, 1920.

      Charles Todd has written another series, this one with Bess Crawford, a nurse serving on the battlefields of France and on a hospital ship. The first, A DUTY TO THE DEAD, occurs in 1916 when Bess in on leave in England. The second, AN IMPARTIAL WITNESS, is due out this month. They are well-worth reading but I don’t think they are as good as the Rutledge series.

      The have also written an outstanding stand-alone, THE MURDER STONE.

      Now, Michelle, you have a long answer to a very short question.

  2. Oh–and thanks for including me in your blogroll!


  3. Pingback: AUTHORS S – Y | MURDER by TYPE

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