Charla W. (biloxi, mS)
A Bitter Truth
This is a wonderful mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end. I had no idea who the bad guy was until the end, which is the way a good mystery should be. Although, this was the first Bess Crawford Mystery I have read, I will be on the look out for these books in the future. This book had believable, interesting characters that you could not help loving. This is a stand alone book and you don't have to read the other books to know what is going on.
Bess Crawford is a murder suspect during World War I. While she is trying to find the real murderer, World War I is raging onward. Anyone that loves a good mystery and loves World War I history would love this book.
Mary O. (Boston, MA)
a historic yarn
I highly recommend this historic novel for perfect summer beach reading! It is a well written description of a complicated family situation during World War I with murder as the backdrop. There is good character development and twists and turns that make you love and hate some characters at the same time! It would make a great discussion for a book group. ENJOY!
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.
Carole P. (framingham, ma)
A Bitter Truth
I have read several of Todd's books and always enjoy his writing. He draws his readers into the WWI time period from the first page. Nurse Bess Crawford is warm, realistic and engaging. The sections set in the war zones are chilling. All of this is what I like about his books.
However,there is a critical part of the plot that was unbelievable to me. This is why I could not give it a " good". Still, his writing, characters and setting make for a fun read.
Ray P. (Selden, NY)
The latest in the saga of WWI British nurse, Bess Crawford.
The mother/son team that writes under the pen name --- Charles Todd --- have already created the terrific Inspector Ian Rutledge series. Now, A BITTER TRUTH marks the third entry in their latest series --- the Bess Crawford mysteries.
Bess is a British battlefield nurse who witnesses first-hand the horrors of WWI. Additionally, she finds herself constantly at the center of various deadly mysteries. A BITTER TRUTH finds Bess befriending a young woman named Lydia who appears to have been battered by her husband, himself a British serviceman. Bess decides to accompany Lydia to her home and is quickly thrust into the middle of a murder that may have been committed to protect a deadly family secret.
The difference with this Bess Crawford mystery is that she herself is unwittingly made a subject in the murder investigation --- a fact that makes her involvement in finding out the truth that much more difficult. Although this is not Charles Todd's finest work, it does feature what they always do best --- create an atmosphere of a bygone era that is so real and gritty you are practically transported there with every line.
Gail B. (Albuquerque, NM)
A dark and stormy night, a frightened, well-bred woman crouching on our heroine's London doorstep, with no money and nowhere to go. Tender-hearted Sister Bess Crawford is drawn into the spooky life of the Ellis family at Vixen Hall in the Sussex countryside. The convoluted plot, with multiple victims and possible villains, a la Agatha Christie, is saved by the back story of wartime England and France in WWI. Storyline has many similarities to Maisie Dobbs novels, though not as well written.
Debbie S. (Paso Robles, CA)
Set in England during World War 1, Bess Crawford, a nurse stationed in France, returns home to London on leave. Upon reaching her flat she finds a young woman huddled in her doorway. After giving the young woman shelter for the night, Bess accompanies Lydia to her home in Sussex. There Bess becomes involved in a murder. Alternating between the battlefields of France and the scene of the murder, the story seems at times to drag and lack excitement or suspense. Characters are not fully developed and some of the plot line is somewhat confusing.
For those looking for a "cozy" mystery, this might be suitable. For those wanting a more suspenseful mystery this will not be a good read.