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A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery | [Charles Todd]

A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (286 )
5 star
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4.3 (235 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 06-15-14
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 06-15-14 Member Since 2008

    I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sort of Dry"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dorothy Newburgh, NY, United States 02-22-13
    Dorothy Newburgh, NY, United States 02-22-13 Member Since 2011

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "Bess is before her time"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luisa Seattle, WA USA 02-21-13
    Luisa Seattle, WA USA 02-21-13 Member Since 2013

    Lu

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent historical fiction"
    What made the experience of listening to A Bitter Truth the most enjoyable?

    It was more provocative than "enjoyable". Many facts were presented that were timely. More of a women's book than for a man.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    The plot unwrapped onion peel by onion peel.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The opening scene of the book grabbed one's attention.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Homer, Alaska, United States 10-29-12
    Deborah Homer, Alaska, United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Mystery--love the history"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Bitter Truth to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoy mysteries, but I especially enjoy historical fiction.


    What about Rosalyn Landor’s performance did you like?

    She is able to make even the male characters believable as well as doing a good job of accents.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes!


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raymond Lebanon, CT, United States 10-02-12
    Raymond Lebanon, CT, United States 10-02-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    "a lesser Charles Todd"
    What did you like best about A Bitter Truth? What did you like least?

    I liked the narrator. The story just keeps wandering around never really capturing a strong plot or beliveable characters.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Charles Todd again?

    I've listened to many Charles Todd books before and always enjoyed them. I won't listen to any more in this series.


    Have you listened to any of Rosalyn Landor’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Rosalyn Landor is a fine narrator and one of the reasons that I listened to this book.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 06-22-13
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 06-22-13 Member Since 2014

    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!!! 

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "#3 IN ANOTHER GREAT CHARLES TODD SERIES!"

    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.)

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie 02-03-13
    Marie 02-03-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Weak Story Saved by an Excellent Narrator"

    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.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Lewisville, TX, United States 07-14-15
    John Lewisville, TX, United States 07-14-15 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow start"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    regina New Sharon, ME, United States 08-27-13
    regina New Sharon, ME, United States 08-27-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "boring"

    Please spent your time writing the Inspector Ian Rutledge novels. They have heart and a good mystery. Bees Crawford is just plain boring

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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