Andrea B. (Phoenix, AZ)
WW I Nurse
This is the 4th in the Bess Crawford series about an English nurse during WW I. This is the first in the series that I have read and it is not necessary to have read the others to follow the story line here. The historical background of WW I as told from a medical worker's perspective is interesting. It brings home the awful carnage of that war and how primitive medical science was at that time. The mystery is creative. However, the clues followed and the person suspected turn out to be not the reality. The real solution to the mystery becomes apparent only at the end of the book. As is usual in mysteries, there is a crisis with a narrowly averted murder. The motives for the crimes committed seemed a little far fetched. Nonetheless, I found the setting of WW I England and France and the social culture of England interesting enough to justify reading this book. I liked the book well enough to read the others in this series.
Amy L. (Tucson, AZ)
Not The Best Charles Todd I've Ever Read
Charles Todd books are favorites of mine, particularly the Inspector Rutledge series. I am having trouble getting interested in their new Bess Crawford series, which follows a British army nurse in France during World War I. As opposed to Rutledge, there is simply not much depth to this character. Moreover, Jacqueline Winspear covers this topic so much better in her Maisie Dodds series.
Phyllis R. (EAST NEW MARKET, MD)
A Death in Wartime
In AN UNMARKED GRAVE, the fourth in his series featuring Bess Crawford, Charles Todd presents an unexplained death among all the wartime dead. When Bess finds a body that doesn't belong with the others, and of a family friend, no less, she tries to find his murderer. First, she must overcome an attack of the Spanish flu that keeps her from following up until the body is interred in an unmarked grave. Using her father's military connections, and the help of an American patient, she tries to continue her nursing duties while detecting. The American patient introduces a possible romantic interest for future stories. Bess evades her own murder while resolving her case after several false starts. This is a strong entry in the series and encourages one to keep reading.
An Unmarked Grave
Being an avid fan of Charles Todd through the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, it is difficult for me to see this with fresh eyes. I entered the Bess Crawford mysteries out of order as “An Unmarked Grave” is the fourth novel in the series and the first I have read. Most of the things I really love about books written by Todd are present, the vivid portrayal of each scene, the insightfulness that comes through the main character (Bess in this series) and the broad range of historical context/perspective - all excellent. There are a number of main characters that are very likeable. What got in the way of my full enjoyment of “An Unmarked Grave” was the plot itself. The motivations of the villains, the speculations involved in solving the mystery, the behavior of various characters and the circumstances surrounding how people came to be in one place or another at the time they did left me thinking “Huh? Oh well” and then I would read on. I believe that as long as you’re not a real stickler for how neatly the plot is knit together or for believability there is plenty in this novel to enjoy. For those first reading Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford series, I recommend starting with the first of the series and read through. When you progress to this book, you will buy it, enjoy it and likely say “It's not one of the best” and go on to the next one. From my experience with the Ian Rutledge series, I expect you will be rewarded. What saved “An Unmarked Grave” for me is that it is written by a very gifted writing team. The plot represented a bit (albeit a central bit) of gristle in an otherwise good steak (vegetarians please edit with a suitable metaphor). Much good writing and enjoyable personality amidst a story not so well crafted.
Shelby L. (Hamden, CT)
Lately I've been entranced by all things British and this book didn't disappoint in satisfying me. I've not read the preceding books in the series but will.
Bess Crawford is a wonderful character, way ahead of her time as an independent woman. She delves into solving the mysteries of the deaths presented with determination and courage. She's clever and very feisty.
The author's vivid descriptions of time and place were easily seen in my mind's eye.
The book would appeal to any period mystery lover, especially women.
Norman G. (Diamond Bar, CA)
Excellent, as always
I always enjoy books by Charles Todd, and this was no exception. The characterization made you care about the people and most seemed very believable. The historical background added to the authenticity with its accuracy. The only complaint has to do with the Dickensian string of coincidences. Otherwise the plot holds and the ending surprises. A satisfying read.
Lorraine R. (southampton, NY)
War and mayhem
Another Charles Todd success! I thoroughly enjoy reading their little mysteries set during WWI. Nurse Crawford's voice puzzles over the increasing facts and events leading from a murder on the fields of war. She is as tenacious as a bull dog, not willing to give up until she gets to the very bottom of the mystery. I have enjoyed all of the Todd mysteries and recommend them to others who like light, entertaining mystery reading.