Trying to help a woman in distress, World War I nurse and accidental sleuth Bess Crawford learns that no good deed goes unpunished.
When battlefield nurse Bess Crawford returns from France for a well-earned Christmas leave, she finds a bruised and shivering woman huddled in the doorway of her London residence. The woman has nowhere to turn, and propelled by a firm sense of duty, Bess takes her in.
Once inside Bess' flat, the woman reveals that a quarrel with her husband erupted into violence, yet she wants to return home - if Bess will go with her to Sussex. Realizing that the woman is suffering from a concussion, Bess gives up a few precious days of leave to travel with her. But she soon discovers that this is a good deed with unforeseeable consequences.
What Bess finds at Vixen Hill is a house of mourning. The woman's family has gathered for a memorial service for the elder son, who died of war wounds. Her husband, home on compassionate leave, is tense, tormented by jealousy and his own guilty conscience.
Then, when a troubled houseguest is found dead, Bess herself becomes a prime suspect in the case. This murder will lead her to a dangerous quest in war-torn France, an unexpected ally, and a startling revelation that puts her in jeopardy before a vicious killer can be exposed.
©2011 Charles Todd (P)2011 HarperCollinsPublishers
I love all genres of books. However, when I listen to audio books as I clean, garden, drive they are better with a lot of heat!
A Bitter Truth is the third book in the series featuring Bess Crawford, a nursing sister during WWI. Brought up in an affluent military family, Bess is more worldly and independent than other young women of her time. Despite the stereotype of nurses being women of a low class or dubious reputation, Bess sees the need to attend to the war wounded, and after earning her certification, is stationed in France. It is this combination of conscience and confidence that typically gets Bess immersed in the troubles of other people, leading the her second career of amateur sleuth.
In A Bitter Truth, Bess returns to London on leave, and finds a young woman huddled in the bitter cold on Bess's doorstop. Unable to turn away anyone in need, Bess offers the young woman a place to stay, and eventually finds that Lydia, the young woman, imprudently fled from home after Lydia's husband struck her during an argument. Unable to say no to anyone, Bess returns home with Lydia, and becomes immersed in the unhappy life of a family grieving for a long dead child and losses from war battles.
This tense situation eventually involves a murder, a missing wounded soldier, and a rumored love child abandoned in France. With the situation unresolved, Lydia returns to France, and finds the child in question, along with an angry encounter with Lydia's husband, who is also the suspected father.
Called back to England for the inquest, Bess is once again deeply involved with this sad and difficult family, alternately welcomed into their home and treated with disdain. I struggled with this part of the story, as I think that someone with Bess's courage and confidence would have focused her efforts where they could do some good instead of o Lydia's ungrateful family. A second, the a third murder occurs, along with the surprise arrival of the child from France, aided by an Australian soldier that Bess had nursed.
Once Bess, along with her father's aide, focus on the facts, the mystery and murderer becomes clear, ending in a car chase and fist fight. The fate of the child begins to be worked out between the English family that wants her and poor nuns in war ravaged France. Bess returns to her nursing duty, and most likely a new mystery in the future.
A Bitter Truth is a likable mystery, with the parts referring to WWI and the wounded soldiers very well done. There is not an excess of gore, violence, or romance, which is a refreshing change. Although I enjoyed reading the book, I was bothered by the inconsistency of Bess gladly immersing herself in the problems of others yet being willing to send an orphaned child (who was clearly the illegitimate child of Lydia's husband) back to occupied France. Except for this disparity--which may not bother most readers, as people are surprising, this is a strong third installment of the Bess Crawford series.
Rosalyn Landor was outstanding with the delivery of the story.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
Nothing in this book made me
Like the Characters
Anxious for what would happen next
Interested in these people's lives.
It wasn't a bad read. But it wasn't very good either.
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.
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 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.)
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.
This one started out really slow, and I was somewhat bored until the second half of the story got moving. In this age of DNA, I found it somewhat disingenuous to deal with one of the major themes -- that a 2-year-old child born in a different country MUST be the illegitimate child of one of the male characters, simply because she closely resembled his sister, who died at the age of six, with no other apparent connection between them.
Please spent your time writing the Inspector Ian Rutledge novels. They have heart and a good mystery. Bees Crawford is just plain boring
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