When Bess arrives at the Graham house in Kent, Jonathan Graham listens to his brother's last wishes with surprising indifference. Neither his mother nor his brother Timothy seems to think it has any significance. Unsettled by this, Bess is about to take her leave when sudden tragedy envelops her.
She quickly discovers that fulfilling this duty to the dead has thrust her into a maelstrom of intrigue and murder that will endanger her own life and test her courage as not even war has.
©2009 Charles Todd; (P)2009 BBC Audio
"Todd employs all the elements of a satisfying cozy mystery, with an absorbing plot and a charismatic heroine that will leave the reader wanting more." (Library Journal)
History lovers will revel in the period details of this mystery set during WWI. Bess Crawford, a nursing sister in the medical corps, becomes involved more and more deeply in the family of a soldier whom she nursed til his death from sepsis. Failing to keep up her shield of professional detachment, her heart aches as she brings his last request to his family. From life onboard a troop hospital ship to life in the English countryside during wartime, the descriptions ring true both historically and emotionally. Well done indeed. The descriptions of Shell Shocked soldiers foretell our generation's PTSD. Can't wait to read more of Bess.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
At first Bess Crawford seems to be a likable heroine, and this book has an exciting and intriguing beginning.
But, as the book goes on, the reader is taken into an increasingly unlikely story. Bess appears in a place where she has no credible reason to be (her family is surprisingly accepting and absent) and up to her ears in a mystery which the the listener/reader has figured out after a couple of chapters.
I've read one other entry, and this series is a complete miss. Try the Inspector Ian Rutledge books by Charles Todd instead. I have really enjoyed those. If you are interested in a nurse's view of the WWI time period, try Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series.
Genre fiction, trashy to literary--mystery, action, sci fi, fantasy, and, yes, even romance. Also history. Listener reviews help a lot!
I wanted to like this book a lot better than I did. Too many of the characters were essentially hateful products of late Victorian era social structure. These self-rightous members of the upper and upper-middle classes seem able to contort themselves into justifying the most heinous of actions, as long as appearances and the social status quo are upheld. Truth, justice, and compassion are scorned by these people.
The heroine, an intelligent and resolute young nurse who is recovering from an injury suffered when her WWI hospital ship was torpedoed, eventually breaks through the conventions imposed on her by "good manners" and "appropriate behavior" and acts as her conscience tells her is right. She is then carried along by events that whirl out of her control, finally discovering that the truth sets free, but at a price.
The book starts slowly and builds to truly gripping series of events and revelations. The middle third of the book is a real page-turner. But the ending simply drags on. I was invested enough in the two major characters that I needed to finish it to know how things turned out. On the downside, the last 2 hours were a morass of unnecessary characters and frustrating roadblocks. Real life is too often like that; don't need it in my "escape" fiction.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
Bess Crawford, more like the son of a distinguished British army officer than a daughter, just survived the sinking of the Brittanic, the hospital ship on which she served . . . healing from a broken arm, home on medical leave, the army nurse, sets to the task of fulfilling her promise to a dying soldier . . . to deliver a message to his family . . . while visiting the Graham family to deliver the message, Bess is called on to help with another soldier with "shell shock" . . . I don't want to give the plot away, but the story is excellent, well-told and gives the listener not only a glimpse of Great War, but also of the British home front . . . the grit and determination of Bess is refreshing and I found myself listening late into the night as the mystery unfolded . . . I can't wait to get the next one in the series.
Everything about this title is mediocre. The narration is fair but male voices are significantly lacking. The storyline is good enough but has so many "Really?" type moments that is just isn't credible. It never appears as if the heroine is in danger, but the storyline just wouldn't' go that way! The characters were likable but still middle-of-road. I just wouldn't bother with title.
this was a great mystery and will read the next in the series. Charles Todd is a great read. I also like his inspector rutledge 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 1st 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.)
With all the advanced praise I read about the son and mother duo comprising Charles Todd, I went into the reading and listening (I switched back and forth between the Kindle eBook and Audible audiobook versions) of A Duty to the Dead with high expectations and very high hopes. I am a sucker for a history-drenched mystery and I absolutely love when I am truly shocked by the various surprises that pop up during these sorts of novels. While Duty to the Dead did introduce me to a plucky and resourceful new heroine in Bess Crawford, I can't say that my highest of expectations were met when I was through.
I specifically wanted to start with A Duty to the Dead as this is the first of the Bess Crawford Series now due to have its seventh installment come out next week (August 18th, 2015). Within the first few pages I was completely confused as to whether I had in fact picked the correct book as the first in the series. I actually had to go online and make sure I was correct with this assumption as the book seems to pick up in the middle of Bess's story. She is already a trained nurse, working on board a medical ship during WWI, and when the book opens she is in the middle of writing a letter when the ship she is on has an explosion. We don't get much background on Bess other than short snippets of information that feel more like they are meant to be synopsis of what we should already know than new information and the main driving force of the novel - Bess's deathbed promise to Lieutenant Graham that she would pass on his message to his brother Jonathan - has already occurred! The reader never gets to know Arthur Graham except in Bess's memories and, for me, this made her mission and her rather intense feelings for the young officer fall flat. Without getting to experience their interactions first hand it felt more like Bess just telling her story than me actually being a witness to what has happened to bring her to the emotions and actions that propel the story. As I love feeling like part of the action, this was a big disappointment for me.
Once Bess actually delivers her message to Jonathan Graham and is roped into staying a little longer at their manor, therefore becoming entangled in the many secrets the family is hiding, the story became much more enjoyable. Bess is quite the determined amateur detective and I enjoyed watching her uncover the lies the various members of the Graham family, including Arthur, had hidden, which included a serial killer within their midst. I will admit that I had a pretty good idea who the killer was relatively early on, but I still enjoyed watching the story unfold to see exactly how we would get to the final conclusion.
All in all, A Duty to the Dead wasn't a bad story, I just didn't feel it lived up to the great hype I kept reading surrounding this series. I'm torn on whether I want to continue to read any more, since I really did enjoy Bess's character even when the plot and character development fell somewhat short. I might have felt less this way if the beginning didn't feel like I was thrown into the middle of a story I should already know the background to. If I continue with the series I will definitely lower my expectations and be hopefully optimistic that more time will be spent in familiarizing readers with the characters and their actions.
This first book in Charles Todd's Bess Crawford series is not as well plotted as the author's Ian Rutledge series, but it is still an enjoyable listen. The narrator is excellent.
Yes, because you become engaged with the story from the beginning.
As the plot thickened it was suspenseful.
I had several scenes that I liked.
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