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January - March 2012     VOLUME 16 ISSUE 1
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Charles Todd

In Their Own Words
Festival of Reading

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother and son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. This section taken from goes in depth with their post WWI Scotland Yard Detective.

An Interview with Inspector Ian Rutledge, March 1920.

Interviewer: Inspector Rutledge, you come from a different background than most policemen today–middle class family, father a solicitor, mother an accomplished pianist, yourself university educated. What interested you in police work rather than following your father into the law?

Ian Rutledge: I’d thought I’d settled on becoming an architect—the influence of my godfather, David Trevor. His son Ross and I were close and I spent many weekends with them in London or in their Scottish hunting lodge. Building something seemed permanent and useful. Then a remark my father made when I was ten, I think, changed that. He said the law was created so that everyone could expect a fair and impartial justice. There was a murder trial later that summer, and I asked who spoke for the dead man. He told me that no one did, the man was dead. The police gathered evidence, made an arrest, the killer was brought to trial, and if found guilty, punished. That struck me as odd—why shouldn’t the dead man have a voice in what caused his death? My father replied that the law wasn’t set up that way. By the time I’d come down from university, I realized that I wanted to be that voice. It’s how I approach my cases.

Interviewer: Many of your colleagues came up through the ranks, without benefit of university education. Does this present a problem as the Yard expects more training of its officers?

Rutledge: There has been some, yes. (Interviewer’s note: This appears to be an understatement.) It wasn’t that long ago when people expected a policeman to knock at the tradesmen’s entrance, not the front door of a house. But perceptions have changed, and we’ve grown more professional. We all start as a constable, the man who has walked the streets and knows all the people on his watch. He brings this experience to the table, and it’s a good system. But crime isn’t always a simple matter of greed or anger getting the best of someone. It can move quickly out of a local man’s grasp, and the Yard must step in with a broader perspective. I was recently in Northumberland where a local case spread to several other areas because the facts had been blurred or lost over time. This is where training and education come in to provide a broader picture. And this is where the local man must accept a new approach. This is the future of the Yard, but it isn’t always comfortable in the work day. Use your instinct, your head and your observations, Sergeant Gibson at the Yard told me once, and he’s right. These matter. But you must also bring outside experience to the mix.

Charles and Caroline Todd will be appearing at the 2012 Festival of Reading.  The complete schedule can be found at