Charles Todd is the pen name of a mother-son writing duo, Caroline and Charles Todd. They are famous for their historical mystery novels. The two authors have collaborated on two well-regarded series, the Bess Crawford series, and the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. Their works are set during and after World War I, with the former featuring a British nurse solving mysteries and the latter focusing on a Scotland Yard inspector struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The mother-son writing team has published numerous novels in both series. Their works cover rich historical detail, engaging mysteries, and complex characters. The authors have earned several awards and nominations for their work, including the Agatha, Barry, and Macavity awards. If you are waiting for Charles Todd books to be in order, you are on the way. Let’s go!
Charles Todd Books In Order (Reading Guide)
Reading Charles Todd’s books in order is not necessary. I recommend following the reading order for a few reasons:
Character development: Both the Bess Crawford and Inspector Ian Rutledge series features strong character development, which unfolds progressively throughout the books. Reading the series in order will help you to learn the growth of the protagonists and secondary characters.
Plot continuity: Although each novel in both series presents a new mystery that can be enjoyed as a standalone story, some overarching plot threads and character relationships are better understood when the books are read in order.
Historical context: The authors pay great attention to the historical settings of their novels, and reading the books in order will provide you with a better understanding of the historical events during and after World War I.
If you want to pick up a book from either series out of order, you should still be able to enjoy the mystery and the characters without feeling completely lost. However, for the most rewarding reading experience, it’s advisable to read the series in order.
Inspector Ian Rutledge Series:
- A Test of Wills (1994).
- Wings of Fire (1998).
- Search the Dark (1999).
- Legacy of the Dead (2000).
- Watchers of Time (2001).
- A Fearsome Doubt (2002).
- A Cold Treachery (2005).
- A Long Shadow (2006).
- A False Mirror (2007).
- A Pale Horse (2008).
- A Matter of Justice (2008).
- The Red Door (2009).
- A Lonely Death (2011).
- The Confession (2012).
- Proof of Guilt (2013).
- Hunting Shadows (2014).
- A Fine Summer’s Day (2015).
- No Shred of Evidence (2016).
- Racing the Devil (2017).
- The Gate Keeper (2018).
- The Black Ascot (2019).
- A Divided Loyalty (2020).
- A Fatal Lie (2021).
- A Game of Fear (2022).
- Cold Comfort.
- A Guid Soldier.
- Original Sins.
- The Kidnapping.
- The Piper.
Bess Crawford Series:
- A Duty to the Dead (2009).
- An Impartial Witness (2010).
- A Bitter Truth (2011).
- An Unmarked Grave (2012).
- A Question of Honor (2013).
- An Unwilling Accomplice (2014).
- A Pattern of Lies (2015).
- The Shattered Tree (2016).
- A Casualty of War (2017).
- A Forgotten Place (2018).
- A Cruel Deception (2019).
- An Irish Hostage (2021).
- The Cliff’s Edge (2023).
- The Girl on the Beach.
- The Walnut Tree.
- The Maharani’s Pearls.
- A Hanging at Dawn.
- The Maharani’s Pearls.
- The Murder Stone (2003).
- The Pretty Little Box (2018).
- Blood Money.
Inspector Ian Rutledge Books In Order
The Inspector Ian Rutledge series is set in the aftermath of World War I. Rutledge deals with his post-war trauma while solving crimes for Scotland Yard. The series’ quality varies from book to book, with some installments being more successful than others in the plot, character development, and pacing.
Some subtle references to events in previous books may enhance your understanding and enjoyment of later installments in the series. If you prefer to read the books out of order, you can still enjoy the individual mysteries and storylines.
Checkout: Inspector Ian Rutledge Books List
A Test of Wills (1994): In this book, we introduce inspector Ian Rutledge who returns from World War I with a heavy burden of guilt and psychological trauma. He starts his new job as a detective at Scotland Yard and investigates the murder of a retired colonel in a small English village, where the locals are unwilling to help him.
Wings of Fire (1998): In this book, Inspector Rutledge travels to the north of England to investigate the suspicious death of a man in a car accident. The case becomes more complex when another death occurs. Rutledge faces the web of lies and secrets to uncover the truth.
Search the Dark (1999): Inspector Rutledge investigates a woman murder case. He soon discovers that the victim was not who she claimed to be and that her death may be connected to a string of murders in London.
Legacy of the Dead (2000): This novel is a perfect addition to the series, with Inspector Ian Rutledge continuing to uncover the truth behind the crime he is investigating. The story also shows Rutledge reconnecting with family in Scotland and coming to terms with his post-war trauma, which adds depth to his character.
Watchers of Time (2001): In this book, Inspector Rutledge investigates a series of mysterious deaths in a small town in Wales. He soon discovers that the victims are all members of a secret society. So the case becomes even more dangerous when he realizes someone is trying to kill him.
A Fearsome Doubt (2002): Inspector Rutledge investigates a dead body on the beach. The case becomes more complicated when he finds that the victim is a war hero who was thought to have died in battle.
A Cold Treachery (2005): In this book, Inspector Rutledge investigates the murder of a retired officer known for his cruelty during the war. The case becomes more complex when Rutledge discovers that the victim has many old and new enemies.
A Long Shadow (2006): Rutledge investigates the murder of a man in a small town. The case becomes more complicated when he discovers the victim has ties to a wealthy and influential family.
A False Mirror (2007): This novel involves a murder mystery where bodies begin to pile up, and there are a substantial number of suspects. The plotting is less precise than in previous books, with too many loose ends. The ultimate revelation of the killer is also considered less than satisfying.
A Pale Horse (2008): In this book, Inspector Rutledge investigates the murder of a woman found dead in a remote village. The victim was connected to a wealthy family with many secrets.
A Matter of Justice (2008): Inspector Rutledge investigates a dead body in a small town. The victim was a well-respected judge who had many enemies.
The Red Door (2009): In this book, Inspector Rutledge looks into the murder of a woman found dead in a house with a red door. The woman was not who she claimed to be, and her death is connected to a series of other murders.
A Lonely Death (2011): Three members of the same family are found dead. Inspector Rutledge tries to find out the murderer. He discovers that the family has a dark past, and their deaths are connected to an unsolved case from years ago. Rutledge’s situation makes the plot more cohesive.
The Confession (2012): In this book, Inspector Rutledge solves the murder of a man who was thought to have died years ago.
Proof of Guilt (2013): Inspector Rutledge tries to solve a murder case in a London street. The case becomes more complex because the victim was a successful businessman with many enemies.
Hunting Shadows (2014): In this book, Inspector Rutledge investigates the murder of a man found dead in a haunted forest. The victim was a war veteran with a troubled past.
A Fine Summer’s Day (2015): In a small village, Inspector Rutledge investigates a young woman who is found dead. He discovers the victim has many secrets, and her death connects to other murders.
No Shred of Evidence (2016): Rutledge investigates the disappearance of four young women in a small town. The town has a dark history, and someone is willing to kill to keep the secrets buried.
Racing the Devil (2017): Inspector Rutledge is trying to solve a car accident case. The victim was a former spy with many enemies.
The Gate Keeper (2018): In this book, Inspector Rutledge investigates the murder of a man found dead in a cemetery. His death connects to a series of other murders.
The Black Ascot (2019): A man is released from prison after serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. Inspector Rutledge investigates the case and uncovers some unexpected truths.
A Divided Loyalty (2020): Inspector Rutledge solves the murder of a man in a remote village.
A Fatal Lie (2021): Inspector Rutledge is called to investigate when a man is found dead on a beach.
A Game of Fear (2022): Rutledge struggles with his post-war trauma while investigating mysterious events at an airfield during the war. The story keeps the reader guessing with a surprise ending, and I enjoyed it so much that I read it in only two days.
Each book in the series is a standalone novel, but there are ongoing themes throughout the series. Overall, it’s highly recommended for fans of historical mysteries and detective fiction.
Bess Crawford Books In Order
The Bess Crawford is a captivating historical mystery series set during and after World War I. We follow the eponymous character, Bess Crawford, a dedicated and resourceful British nurse. She finds herself involved in various mysteries while serving on the front lines.
The series consists of numerous novels, each presenting a new mystery for Bess to solve while also exploring the emotional and physical toll of the war on the characters. The writing is immersive, transporting readers back to the early 20th century, capturing the era’s atmosphere, dialogues, and nuances.
Checkout: Bess Crawford Books List
A Duty to the Dead (2009): A fantastic start to the Bess Crawford series, “A Duty to the Dead” introduces us to Bess, a World War I nurse who becomes involved in a mysterious family secret. The novel is rich in historical detail, and the character development of Bess is strong.
An Impartial Witness (2010): The second book in the series finds Bess investigating the murder of a woman whose husband is serving in the war. This installment builds on the solid foundation established in the first book. The story is gripping, and the interplay between the murder investigation and Bess’s nursing duties adds depth to the narrative.
A Bitter Truth (2011): Bess helps a troubled woman who, after inviting her into her home, becomes involved in a murder investigation. The novel demonstrates a maturation of the series, with strong character development and the introduction of new personalities. The mystery and the historical setting add to the atmosphere of the story.
An Unmarked Grave (2012): Bess discovers the body of a murdered family acquaintance among the dead on the battlefield. The novel maintains the series’ momentum with a gripping mystery, strong characters, and a fascinating exploration of wartime politics and espionage.
A Question of Honor (2013): In the series’ fifth book, Bess investigates the connection between a family friend and a series of mysterious deaths. This book explores the theme of loyalty and the impact of war on individual lives.
An Unwilling Accomplice (2014): This book finds Bess caught up in a manhunt after a soldier under her care disappears. It’s a thrilling blend of suspense and mystery, with a strong focus on the emotional toll of war.
A Pattern of Lies (2015): Bess investigates a deadly explosion in this novel. She is uncovering secrets and lies that span years. This installment is a solid addition to the series, with a well-executed mystery and an exploration of the societal impact of the war.
The Shattered Tree (2016): Bess is treating a wounded soldier who may not be who he claims to be. This novel focuses on themes of identity and loyalty, with a captivating mystery that keeps you guessing.
A Casualty of War (2017): Bess helps a soldier suffering from a mysterious injury. This novel shows the psychological effects of war and is a powerful addition to the series.
A Forgotten Place (2018): Bess finds herself in a lonely Welsh village, uncovering the secrets of the war’s impact on the community. The novel is atmospheric, with a strong sense of place and a gripping mystery.
A Cruel Deception (2019): Bess clarifies the name of a former soldier accused of murder. The novel is another excellent addition to the series, focusing on themes of trust and redemption.
An Irish Hostage (2021): In post-WWI Ireland, this book shows Bess as she attends a family wedding, only to become involved in a kidnapping and murder investigation.
The Cliff’s Edge (2023): The latest entry in the series sees Bess investigating the apparent suicide of a fellow nurse, uncovering a web of secrets and intrigue. The novel is a testament to the strength of the series, with a compelling mystery and excellent character development. I explored the complexities of relationships and the personal cost of keeping secrets, making for an engaging and satisfying read.
So, the Bess Crawford series is an outstanding historical mystery series anchored by a strong, empathetic protagonist and rich historical detail. Each book builds on the previous one, providing readers with a consistently engaging and immersive experience. I recommend reading them in order.
Read more similar: