Narrative makes the world go round.
If you've never read a list mystery about a nurse (or similar) amateur sleuth solving crimes in the midst of WW1 carnage, this could be interesting. But the author team of Charles Todd wastes a good series premise and potentially interesting characters in that rich backdrop by producing a pedestrian rehash of other novels. Particularly wasted is the Spanish Flu epidemic material. I've listened to a couple of the Ian Rutledge novels - It's hard to believe the same team writes the Bess Crawford series. Number 1 in the series was better, and each subsequent novel seemed to be more loosely constructed -- just the opposite of what usually happens in a historical mystery series as the characters get a chance to develop. Here Bess still improbably hops around Britain and the French trenches, poking her nose in a minor mystery (compared to the hell all around) before eventually tripping over her villain in a too convenient formula.
OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - 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 4th 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 since this is the only one where Audible.com has seen fit to add "Book 4).
Great book; great series; great authors; great narrator! Having read all of the Ian Rutledge books by Charles Todd and now having finished the fourth book in the Beth Crawford series, I can say that both series are exceptional. While the setting for these stories is World War I (not a pleasant topic for sure) the characters that emerge from these stories are totally believable and memorable. Anyone who enjoys detective stories, mysteries, historical fiction, etc. will no doubt enjoy both this book and the two series as did I. And the narrator IS Bess Crawford, Simon, the Colonel, in fact all the characters are truly brought to life by her. Look forward to more to come in both series!
I enjoyed this installment of the Bess Crawford series more than the previous ones. The story of a serial killer preying on WWI soldiers and nurses, in both France and England, kept me involved as Bess uncovered pieces of the puzzle while trying to keep from becoming another victim. Most interesting was the issue of the killer's motive -- is he randomly attacking people, or is he a spy, or is he out for revenge, and if so, for what perceived injury.
Bess is a pain in the neck, constantly going off into danger, lying to Matron, father and others, helping a deserter. The author constantly puts her in danger with no consequences for the perpetrator who tries to run her down, throw her off a boat, choke her, etc.etc. Hey there are policemen!!!!