Reading guide for A False Mirror by Charles Todd

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A False Mirror

An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery

by Charles Todd

A False Mirror
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2007, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2008, 416 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

About The Book

Hampton Regis, a small harbor town on the southern coast of England, is a most unlikely place for violence. Yet, one spring morning, a man is found on the strand so severely beaten that he slips in and out of consciousness. The prime suspect? His wife's jilted lover, who served with Rutledge in the recently ended Great War—but who left the Front under a cloud. Badly wounded, yes, but did someone also cover up cowardice? It falls to Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge to find out.

Questions Relating to A False Mirror

  1. In A False Mirror, people see reflections of themselves that they believe are true. Even Rutledge sees in the love triangle an echo of his relationship with Jean. How does this affect his objectivity when dealing with Mallory or Felicity?
  2. How does Felicity change or grow in the course of the novel?
  3. Guilty consciences play a role in the actions of characters. For instance, the rector, who sees his own failure and Stratton who sees his own guilt. How does this impact their actions?
  4. Which character had the most impact on you, in the course of the novel? Why?
     

Questions Relating to The Inspector Ian Rutledge Series

  1. In World War I "shell shock" was considered cowardice, loss of nerve, a disgrace. Today’s modern diagnosis is post traumatic stress disorder. How does Rutledge’s shell shock and his perception of responses to it affect his behavior and that of others?
  2. How important a part in Rutledge’s recovery does his fiancée Jean play, and how does her rejection affect his relationship with other women. Does he often find in them something that was lacking in his idealistic memory of Jean?
  3. How does the setting affect the characters?
  4. The interaction between Chief Superintendent Bowles and Rutledge is based in part on the changing face of Scotland Yard—Bowles is the up-through-the ranks man, while Rutledge represents the new better educated and trained policeman. How strong an influence is a boss in the lives of most people?
  5. Murder, according to the authors, is a failure in relationships. Do you think an ordinary person can be driven beyond their ability to endure or cope, and see murder as the only way out?
  6. Hamish, whose voice Rutledge hears, is a strong character in his own right. Yet he’s seen through Rutledge’s eyes. How do you respond to Hamish as a man? What role does Hamish play?
  7. Rutledge was rejected by his fiancée Jean. And afterwards he’s resisted involvements. Do you feel a love interest for Rutledge is possible?
  8. In their books looking back at the Twentieth Century, both Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw referred to World War One as the pivotal event that shaped the rest of the century. How does Rutledge’s experience in the trenches shape your view of war?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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