World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford's career and life are in jeopardy when a murder is committed on her watch, in this absorbing and atmospheric historical mystery from New York Times best-selling author Charles Todd.
Arriving in London on leave, Bess Crawford receives an unusual summons from the War Office. She's been requested to accompany a wounded soldier to Buckingham Palace, where he's to be decorated for gallantry by King George himself.
Though she is certain she's never met or nursed Sergeant Jason Wilkins, she cannot refuse the honor. Heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair, the soldier will be in her care for barely a day. But on the morning after the ceremony when Bess goes to collect her charge for his return journey, she finds the room empty. Both the Army and the Nursing Service hold Bess to blame for losing the war hero. There is a humiliating inquiry, and the incident is noted in her record.
More disturbing news complicates her already difficult situation: The Army now considers Wilkins a deserter, and Scotland Yard questions her when Wilkins is suspected of killing a man in cold blood. If Bess is to clear her name and return to duty in France, she must prove that she was never his accomplice. But the sergeant has disappeared again and neither the Army nor the police can find him.
The moral implications - that a patient in her charge has committed murder - become more important to Bess than her own future. Accompanied by her friend Simon Brandon, she heads north to find the missing man herself.
Carefully questioning suspicious locals, Bess and Simon follow a trail of clues across England. Drawn into a mystery that seems to grow darker with every discovery, they realize that this man has brought the war home to remote places far from the killing fields of France. But will uncovering the truth put more innocent people in jeopardy?
©2014 Charles Todd (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
I've enjoyed reading this series, but listening to this audiobook made me realize how much I was skimming. The story could have been trimmed by 50%, easily. It's so overwritten that by the time I reached the end, I was relieved more than entertained.
I have read all of the books in this series and have thoroughly enjoyed every single one. This one was a great mystery that took me to a point where I thought I knew who the culprit was. Wrong.
Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.
How exciting to have a new Charles Todd book! I'm a great fan of both the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford series (which wonderfully complement each other).
In this eagerly-awaited new story, Bess, a WWI battlefield nursing sister, is sent to escort a heavily bandaged soldier to be decorated for his service at Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, the man disappears in the night, and is later believed to have committed a murder. The authorities consider Bess to have been responsible for his going missing, and as this hurts her reputation, she decides she will have to find the missing Sgt. Wilkins to clear her name and solve the murder. With the help of longtime family friend/protector Sgt. Major Simon Brandon, she sets out--without a clue-- to do just this.
Bess is combination Florence Nightingale and Miss Marple as she journeys from town to town, briefly back in France, in search of Sgt. Wilkins, helping with improvised surgery here, birth of a baby there along the way... She and Simon patiently piece together all the slowly gathered bits of information to be able to make sense of their quest for the missing man.
What's really good: this book continues the ongoing story of Bess, her parents (not so much this book), Simon Brandon and friends, all of whom are very interesting, often inspiring people. Charles Todd (a mother/son team) write very engaging stories, always with wonderful details that give a quite realistic feel for the atmosphere of WWI England and France. Each of their books develops the characters more, which keeps a good continuity in the series.
The slightly less good: at times it seemed as though the story relied over-much on coincidence in finding the right places to search, or clues were revealed in ways that stretched credulity a bit. But not to worry. That is pretty much forgiven because being drawn back into the world of these familiar, beloved characters, combined with a good mystery and great writing, more than makes up for it! Rosylyn Landor's narration is very good, all the voices clear and distinct. Was like a reunion with old friends! Highly recommend!
I love all of Charles Todd's books, having read 5 of this series. However, this story was just too incredulous for words! It's hard to believe that a nursing sister and a military officer would go tearing around the English countryside looking for a missing injured soldier whom the Army and Scotland Yard is chasing. This, in the middle of a war, as if both of these people couldn't be better utilized elsewhere. I get that Bess wants to save her reputation since the soldier went AWOL on her watch but to waste resources like gasoline trying to outdo the criminal investigators already on the case is a bit much.
I really like Bess Crawford and have read all the books. I like the series. This book disappoints. The last four hours are tedious! The storyline could have been shortened and shortened to get to the same results.
I love the Bess Crawford series, but this latest iteration was tedious. The mystery was predictable. I enjoyed it overall, but it was disappointing.
I do hope that the next book is post-war. I'd love to see where the post-war years take Bess. And Brandon.
Edit out about 50-100 pages of repetitive red-herring-chasing in the tiny villages of Upper-Middle-Lower Dyso... the fundamental premise of confusion amongst returning WWI soldiers is sound, but not delivered until the last 20 pages.
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