Rated of 5
by Mary G. (Purcellville, VA)
A Bitter Truth is a Bitter Pill
When I signed up to review A Bitter Truth, by Charles Todd, I was looking forward to being introduced to an author I hadn’t read before. After reading the book, I was glad it was free. For a team of writers (Charles Todd is a mother-son writing duo) with 15 books to their credit, this book was surprisingly clumsy and amateurish.
This book was the third in a mystery series featuring a World War One military nurse, Bess Crawford, as the protagonist. It opened with Bess arriving home from the front for holiday leave. Her bus was delayed while police searched for a deserter. Much was made of this deserter in the first few pages so the reader was led to believe this was a significant element of the plot. It turned out to be no more than an oblique clue to the denouement which, by the way, had nothing to do with this particular deserter.
Bess then encounters a woman, Lydia Ellis, wandering around in the rain and decides she should take this stranger home and get involved in her affairs to a ridiculous degree. Despite having only a short leave, Bess is persuaded to accompany Lydia to her home and thus is conveniently on-site to become involved in the murder of another house guest who, of course, chooses to confide in Bess just before he is killed.
I did like the character of Bess. She is strong, capable, and intelligent. However, for some reason she capitulates every time selfish, manipulative Lydia or any member of the odious Ellis family ask her to do something—no matter how great the imposition. The chapters set in France, at the front, are the most believable for me, aside from Bess’ search for a French orphan which, of course, she was persuaded to undertake for the egocentric Lydia. Most of the characters in the book are actually likable. The faithful family friend Simon and the charming and eccentric Australian soldier Sergeant Larimore are strong characters. Even the brief interaction she has with her parents showed them to be engaging. It is too bad that so much of the book is centered on people who are self-important and condescending.
When I finally reached the unsportsmanlike conclusion, I was relieved that my acquaintance with the works of Charles Todd was mercifully at an end.