History lovers will revel in the period details of this mystery set during WWI. Bess Crawford, a nursing sister in the medical corps, becomes involve..Show More »d 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.
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 mu..Show More »rder 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 2nd 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.)
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 ..Show More »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.
This mystery is set against the background of WW I 1918. The war has dragged on for several years, losses have been huge for both sides, men are being..Show More » gassed, and then the pandemic of the 1918 flu is killing people globally. Bess and the other nurses are hard pressed to handle the wounded and now the sick. Soldiers are dying so quickly in France that they are being buried in pits. But one day Bess is called into the room where the bodies are held because an orderly has found a body that did not belong to that unit, with no identifying clothes, and who hadn’t died of the flu. In fact, his neck was broken and he was murdered. Bess knew the man, a family friend who served with her father. She arranged for the orderly to hold back the trucks which took the bodies away, and Bess went off to find the matron to decide what to do. But Bess fell ill with the flu, and was delirious for several days. The nightmare of seeing the murdered man came back to her in a dream. When she finally recovered, she didn’t know if it was a dream or had happened. But then, she learned that the orderly who had also seen the body had, seemingly committed suicide. She instantly believed he was murdered. Bess enlisted the aid of Simon and her father and others to track down this murderer, and her own life was almost taken several times. This was an exciting book, each one in the series has gotten better and better. Landor is a particularly good narrator, especially for no-nonsense nurse Bess Crawford.
I've read and enjoyed this series. This one includes the involvement of Bess's parents which brings them out of the background and makes Bess a partn..Show More »er in solving the case. All in all a fun read.