Proof of Guilt {Review and Giveaway}

by Elizabeth


Proof of Guilt opens in Madeira, 1916, with the German bombing of Funchal Harbour. We see the effects on Matthew Traynor, an Englishman who runs half of a wine making and export business. His fiance is killed in the bombing and he leaves to enlist.

Four years later, a body washes ashore on Dungeness beach in England. A few months after that, a body is found in Chelsea, a man dragged to death, but there’s no car and no signs on the road of  violence done. It becomes evident that the body was killed elsewhere and then dumped here, although Inspector Ian Rutledge has his suspicions about one of the residents of the street, a man who seems too comfortable putting forth theories. The dead man’s body has been stripped of identification, but Rutledge finds on it an expensive gold watch that  belonged to Lewis French, who was Traynor’s partner in the Madeira wine business.

Rutledge begins on a long path to tie these things together. First he goes to visit Lewis French, only to find he’s disappeared as well. His travels take him to meet French’s sister, fiancee, and ex-fiancee, all of whom may have had a motive to get rid of the man. In spite of his wishes, he turns up evidence that seem to point to one of the women. In the meantime, his gut is telling him that guilt lies in another direction. He’s almost certain that he knows who is behind all the deaths, but can find no shred of evidence or proof.

For example, what about the young man who broke into the French home 20 years earlier, breathing murderous threats and attacking Lewis’ father with a knife, who was sent to an insane asylum and now seems totally rehabilitated, working as a gardener? What has become of the man of the house where he is now employed, who always seems to be away for vague reasons? What about the chief clerk at the Madeira wine business, who, with both partners out of the way, might see his way clear to running the business his own way? Is the body on the Dungeness shore at all related to this imbroglio? Who was the man who was dragged behind the car? Where is Lewis French, and where is his car?

Although following his hunches brings him into occasional danger, Rutledge continues to fight his way through, dealing with the demons of his past. Inspector Rutledge spent 4 years in the trenches of WWI, and deals with shell shock, visitations from one young Scot he killed himself, and occasional flashbacks. The Todds have made a specialty of this time period, and do a good job at recreating it. And although Proof of Guilt is of course part of a series, it can be read independently.

Proof of Guilt is the 7th book by Charles Todd that I’ve read, and one of the best. It’s a classic mystery story and very enjoyable to read–lots of clues, plenty of red herrings, and a crisp, satisfying  conclusion.

I’m happy to say that we have a copy to give away to one of you (U.S. and Canada), thanks to TLC book tours. Leave a comment if you’d like to win, and we’ll announce the winner on February 13. The giveaway is closed.

Check out our current giveaways (We have a ton going on now!). Subscribe to our feed. Follow us @5M4B on Twitter or on Facebook.

Elizabeth adores a good mystery on a rainy afternoon, or by the pool on a sunny afternoon, or in a coffee shop or or…you get the idea. Learn more at her blog Planet Nomad. And no, there are no pools anywhere near here, but she can dream.


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DarcyO January 29, 2013 at 7:48 am

I have heard good things about this series and would love to read this one. Thanks for the chance.


2 Jennifer February 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm

You won! Please reply to this email with your shipping info.
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3 Sheila K. January 29, 2013 at 8:31 am

Sounds like a good read—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!


4 riTa January 29, 2013 at 10:16 am

Never heard of this author. Would like to try him.
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5 diane January 29, 2013 at 10:58 am

This book would be fascinating.


6 Anne January 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm

I am captivated with this author’s writing. Wonderful series.


7 Carol Wong January 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I have read great reviews on this one before so I would love to read it. I love historical fiction.



8 Marjorie January 29, 2013 at 2:16 pm

A very interesting storyline and mystery.
Thanks for the chance to win and read.


9 Liz January 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Have enjoyed Rutledge and Crawford series by the Todds. Thanks for giveaway.


10 amyc January 29, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Sounds like one I don’t want to miss!


11 ellie January 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Your review was excellent. What a great novel.


12 Angela E. January 30, 2013 at 10:26 am

Sounds so good, want to read it.


13 Amy January 30, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I’ve read one if the Bess Crawford mysteries, so I think I’d enjoy this.
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14 June January 31, 2013 at 11:22 am

This is one that I want to read for sure.


15 Margaret January 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I would LOVE to win this!



16 Anita Yancey January 31, 2013 at 7:04 pm

I’ve never read any of his books before, but this one sounds good and I’d love to read it. Thanks for this chance to win it.


17 Don February 1, 2013 at 11:25 am

I think my wife would enjoy this book.


18 Jessica T February 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Looks like a good read to take on my vacation!


19 Van February 1, 2013 at 10:01 pm

This book really sounds good to me.


20 Patti Smith February 4, 2013 at 7:23 am

Although I love the Bess Crawford series, I just couldn’t get into this one…and that made me sad :( Enjoyed your review! :)
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21 Carol M February 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm

This sounds like a book I would really enjoy! Thank you for the giveaway!


22 Beth C February 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I love mystery stories. Sounds like a good one!


23 Garrett February 8, 2013 at 10:28 am

Will take to work and read on my lunch hour.


24 Lori D. February 12, 2013 at 11:39 am

Would like to win this book.


25 Barb: 1SentenceDiary February 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Love this! Mysteries are my secret indulgence. :-)


26 Heather J. February 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm

I like the Bess Crawford books but haven’t tried this series yet – looks like I’m missing out!

Thanks for being on the tour.


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