It's true. A good British accent can save almost any story for me. And Rosalyn Landor does an excellent job, raising a story to a level that I could complete the book. As far as the story goes, I was not so enamored. The final solution to the murder mystery was weak and felt forced, as if the author didn't want the murderer to be one of the upper class characters. But the story line related to the search for a missing orphan child in war-torn France left me shaking my head, especially Bess's insistence that the child be returned to the horrors of WWI France for legal reasons.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
I got hooked on author Charles Todd through is Inspector Ian Rutledge series. The Bess Crawford Mysteries are ALMOST as good, with the usual early murder in an unlikely location, followed by an amazing number of twists, turns, and red herrings which keep the reader off kilter until the very end. This is the 3rd in the series. I say this so you don't start out of order. Each book can stand on its own but subsequent ones make reference to prior crimes.
Bess is the only daughter of a highly decorated British colonel who has chosen nursing on the battlefields during World War I, rather than a comfortable, if loveless, marriage to a gentleman of her class. While she lacks the training and knowledge of Rutledge (a well-educated member of London gentry who chose law enforcement before fighting as an officer in the same war), Bess' criminal deductive skills come from what I took as "female intuition", a bit of a condensending insult to women then and now. This choice by Todd gives the Bess Crawford series less of an overall impact, especially since it takes place before the acceptance of such rudimentary criminal forensics like fingerprints, ballistics, the information provided by rigor mortis and livor mortis - all which would become critical components just a decade later. Bess kinda "stumbles" her way into solutions with the full force of the considerable resources and access to military and government documents and databases provided by her father.
The narrator is out of league here. While Landor is great with Regency, Edwardian, and Victorian romance books, her range of voices and dialects is limited, especially with respect to males. All of her men sound like upper-crust fops talking like their buttocks are clinched so tight that a hungry man couldn't get a shilling from between the cheeks. A major flaw is with the dialogue between women of the same class. If more than 2 are talking, the normally irritating "Bess said" or "Lady Stiff-Upperlip remarked" is sorely needed just to keep your place or you'll find yourself rewinding repeatedly throughout the book.
That said, this series is still worth listening to. Try to get them on sale if you can and start with Bess Crawford before the Rutledge books. Comparatively, she is merely a tasty appetizer to Rutledge's outstanding main course. (NOTE: I will post this same review for the others in the series, only changing the chronological order.)
Tell us about yourself! I love to read or listen( audio), nothing abridged ,I want every word the author penned that is what I want.
I love Bess in her day women lived very sheltered lives ,She is the exception ,she is a woman who has a mind of her own. She is an independent thinker and can add two and two . If I were in trouble I'd want her in my corner.
It was more provocative than "enjoyable". Many facts were presented that were timely. More of a women's book than for a man.
The plot unwrapped onion peel by onion peel.
The opening scene of the book grabbed one's attention.
I appreciated Simon's carefully watching for danger without hovering too closely or restricting the heroine's decisions. The strong female protagonist was well painted with small strokes and no heavy platitudes.
I can only guess, as I did not read the print version---the audio version was great as the characters came alive through Rosalyn's reading.
I enjoy mysteries, but I especially enjoy historical fiction.
She is able to make even the male characters believable as well as doing a good job of accents.
Love the fact that this writer does not see a need for fowl language or detailed sexual encounters. I have listened to all the Bess Crawfords mysteries and have moved on to Todd's other mystery series.
I liked the narrator. The story just keeps wandering around never really capturing a strong plot or beliveable characters.
I've listened to many Charles Todd books before and always enjoyed them. I won't listen to any more in this series.
Rosalyn Landor is a fine narrator and one of the reasons that I listened to this book.
Please spent your time writing the Inspector Ian Rutledge novels. They have heart and a good mystery. Bees Crawford is just plain boring