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A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery | [Charles Todd]

A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery

The daughter of a distinguished soldier, Bess Crawford follows in his patriotic footsteps, volunteering to serve her country as a nurse during the Great War. In 1916 she promises Lieutenant Arthur Graham that she will carry his dying request to a brother. When Bess arrives at the Graham house in Kent, Jonathan Graham listens to his brother's last wishes with surprising indifference.
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Publisher's Summary

The daughter of a distinguished soldier, Bess Crawford follows in his patriotic footsteps, volunteering to serve her country as a nurse during the Great War. In 1916 she promises Lieutenant Arthur Graham that she will carry his dying request to a brother.

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (289 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Anne 12-04-10
    Anne 12-04-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Terrific period mystery"

    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.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 08-22-12
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 08-22-12

    Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Strains Credulity"

    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.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Massachusetts 05-19-12
    Carol Massachusetts 05-19-12 Member Since 2010

    Classical history buff, but find most of history fascinating. Love books, ballet, and basketball.

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    "Hard to Root For"

    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.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-23-14
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-23-14 Member Since 2003
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    "Not Bad But Not Real Good"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carina OREGON CITY, OR, United States 01-09-14
    carina OREGON CITY, OR, United States 01-09-14 Member Since 2010

    Retired teacher

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Difficulties of World War I"
    What did you love best about A Duty to the Dead?

    I liked the examples in the characters of the devastation war has on men and women after they have returned from battle.


    What other book might you compare A Duty to the Dead to and why?

    Maise Dobbs book series about World War I. Very good stories.


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

    The main character moved me as she had the strength to go against the status quo of England in that time period..


    Any additional comments?

    This is my first book by Charles Todd, and I was unsure. Now I will listen to more of his stories in the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth United States 10-11-13
    Ruth United States 10-11-13 Member Since 2010

    I love clean books of all sorts. Love mysteries, fantasies epic to kids stories, fairy tales, romances, humor, and historical fiction

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Clean Mystery"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. I get very tired of smut and bad language in books. It is so pervasive. It takes a really good author to create a mystery that relies fully on its story and characters and doesn't resort to this other stuff. This mystery is well-written. The descriptions are done well. The mystery is unfolded bit by bit and leaves you with a "Don't go there with that person!" experience at the end. My daughter suggested this series to me and has read all the books. She thinks they are great and I have to agree with her. Such a pleasure to find one without too much bad language and inappropriate scenes that is still suspenseful. It does unfold very gradually and might be boring to those who want constant high speed chases and bombs blowing up. I thought it was very well done though.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Bess Crawford is determined and brave. She is smart, patient, and kind as well as full of understanding. I really liked the references to shell shock and the sacrifices made by the soldiers.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Wow the beginning was great. The moments where they were escaping from the ..... well I'd better not say. I was there watching it though... This in particular gave it a real historical flavor.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    An Old-Fashioned Hitchcock type Suspense Mystery set in WWI Britain


    Any additional comments?

    I didn't know who did it until the end. I had suspicions but couldn't get it narrowed down even though the field of possible suspects was small. I just new at the end that it wasn't what it appeared to be at first. I really enjoyed it. Good for people of any age. I would think that most people who enjoy a good who-dun-it book will enjoy this.

    1 of 2 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 2007

    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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    "THE 1st BOOK 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 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.)

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    "unknown" ANN ARBOR, MI, United States 02-11-13
    "unknown" ANN ARBOR, MI, United States 02-11-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Characters, Fantastic Writing"

    Though both are written well, I've enjoyed Todd's Bess Crawford mystery series more than the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. Both take place during or just after WWI, which is an absolutely fascinating time period. It's obvious that Todd has done quite a bit of historical research on the war, which certainly adds to each stories' atmosphere.

    The plots might sometimes be a bit of a stretch, but they have enough truth and "believability" so that I've always really enjoyed them.

    The characters are the best part. They are so well developed, they're the reason I've gone through the whole Crawford series. After I'd used my Audible credit on the first book and finished it, I instantly purchased the second book so that I wouldn't have to wait a whole month to see how each character's subplots progressed.

    The narrator's voice sounds a bit too cold for me at times, but again, each character's personality is very strongly written so that towards the end I wasn't bothered by it.

    I thoroughly recommend this book. If you want your characters a bit darker, I suggest the Rutledge series as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis 12-19-12
    Phyllis 12-19-12
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    "A Duty to the Dead"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, because you become engaged with the story from the beginning.


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

    As the plot thickened it was suspenseful.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I had several scenes that I liked.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne 10-03-12
    Suzanne 10-03-12 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyed thoroughly"
    If you could sum up A Duty to the Dead in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting mystery


    What did you like best about this story?


    setting during WW I


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

    Yes, but that wasn't possible.


    Any additional comments?

    I will continuing this heroine in her adventures.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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