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
A friend recommended that I try reading Charles Todd and at that time A Duty to the Dead (the first Bess Crawford novel) had just come out. So that's where I started and I got hooked. I like Bess; she's a strong, single woman serving as a nurse during World War I in France. Somehow she manages to get in the middle of murder mysteries and we get to go along with her to the solution.
This third installment is a solid addition. Bess's compassionate heart won't let her ignore a woman huddling in her London doorway and what results is her becoming fully engaged in the woman's family troubles and murder.
All of the Bess Crawford novels are narrated by Rosalyn Landor, whose soothing British may seem too soothing for a good listen, but she reads it very well. Since these novels are in the first person, she is Bess's voice.
I know fans of the Ian Rutledge novels are disappointed with the Bess Crawford novels a bit. But since this is where I started with Todd, I'm a happy reader/listener.
I quite enjoyed this book as it did not pretend to be anything other then it was. It is an old fashioned mystery novel, all prim and proper from a time when women knew their place in society but a few were testing their strength and will. It had snippets of the 2nd world war thrown in with an insight of how people coped with leading disjointed lives. I am glad I read it.
I have read most of Todd's Inspector Rutledge series and have enjoyed listening to the story lines featuring the conflicted inspector. So when the new series began featuring Army nurse Bess Crawford, I was happy to try out this new point of view. I love the stories and am becoming "attached" to these new characters.
My only reservation is Landor's reading. All of the men sound the same, and it can sometimes get very confusing for me as a listener. The only man I can sometimes differentiate is Simon, who seems to get a little softer treatment from Landor. Other than that difficulty, I highly recommend this new World War I series from the mother-and-son writing team that is Charles Todd.
trying to see the world with my ears
I love "Charles Todd's" Ian Rutledge series, and get drawn into those novels even though they are darker mysteries than I usually like and --from reading about the main character -- I would NEVER have thought that I'd enjoy the novels -- so Todd's Bess Crawford is a heroine I really want to cheer for and expected to enjoy. The first in the series, "A Duty to the Dead", had promise, though the writing and characters were not on par with the Rutledge series. The two subsequesnt Bess Crawford novels seem even weaker to me -- so I hope for a good fourth from the Charles Todd team. Meanwhile, Audible please get more of the early Ian Rutledge novels!
Indeed yes, I'd recommend it as a good read with a plot that surprises and at the same time has wonderful descriptions of landscapes and people.
The psychology of loss: loss of sister, loss of husband's love, loss of wife's trust, loss of parents, loss of life, loss of identity. The effects of war on the men who fought it and the women who loved them.
She does all the voices very well.
I was struck and moved by the honesty of one of the characters who tells his story even though it brings shame upon him and the possibility of great loss.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I have really enjoyed the Ian Rutledge series by Todd and so tried this. I realize I didn't start with the first in the series, and perhaps that diminished my enjoyment of Bess Crawford. The story starts well, but I never really felt attached to Bess or her personal story. The plot here begins in an intriguing way but peters out to a very so-so conclusion. Most of the characters and settings never come to life.
If you like historical mysteries (and especially the WWI period), I'd recommend the early Maisie Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear over the Bess Crawford series. Winspear is better at characterization and atmosphere.
Avid reader (and listener). Obsessive Tudor-period embroideress & designer.
I found the plot too far fetched at times - example: A group of people searching for a child in a country filled with orphans, all of whom immediately recognize her from a portrait of her aunt...Unlike two of the other reviewers I didn't find Bess to be a strong woman. The novel begins with Bess on leave from war and preparing for a trip to see her family. A stranger appears at her door and Bess, due to one request after another, spends all of her leave with the stranger's family - and NOT because she's enjoying herself. I kept wondering why she would allow this family & its priorities to overtake her life & put the feelings of her own family aside - a family longing to see her before she goes back to a war zone. I thought she should stand up to them & insist that she go home (this was, of course, before the murder).
Have re-discovered "quality time." Evenings listening to good books have replaced mindless tv watching. What a difference!
Perhaps. I don't often re-read mysteries, but if ever I would, anything written by Charles Todd (mother-son writing team) would be it!
Always Bess--she is so kind and resourceful. When I was a young girl, in addition to reading Nancy Drew, I also read a series (less well known, I think) called "Cherry Ames." She was a nurse who was an amateur sleuth as well. I loved those--and perhaps it is that long past devotion to that series that also echoes in my memory as I read this one!
Oh yes--only I have to break it up because of length!
Bess Crawford is a companion series that goes with the Inspector Rutledge series. While he is often more of a loner--acting as he sees fit to get the crime solved, Bess tends to be more involved with other people. As a nurse, she is in contact with others more anyway. She has a background father and his long-devoted friend from the wars, who often magically step in to protect her when things begin to get too rough, so she doesn't have to be a physically tough action figure! She does do things on her own, but usually she is clever in being able to solve crimes through her connectedness to others more than Rutledge, who shies away from people as a rule.
I think the two series complement each other beautifully. If you have not read either from the beginning--suggest you do so. While they work okay starting in the middle, like many series, characters develop over time, so that is more satisfying.
My only thoughts about this particular book that made it *slightly* less enjoyable (and that would be like removing 1/100th of a star :-) is that the idea of Bess going to the house of a perfect stranger for a few days, giving up her own Christmas visit with her parents, was rather implausible. But if you forgive the authors that tiny bit of a stretch, it is a great read!
I"m biased, because I would (at this point) love just about anything Charles Todd writes--because I have read every book so far and truly enjoyed them. But I honestly think they are a talented pair. Highly recommend--good history of WWI era as well as good writing, and interesting plots!
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.
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