An Unmarked Grave: Book summary and reviews of An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd

An Unmarked Grave

A Bess Crawford Mystery

By Charles Todd

An Unmarked Grave
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2012,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

World War I nurse and amateur sleuth Bess Crawford must match wits with a devious killer in this exciting and suspenseful adventure from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd.

In the spring of 1918, the Spanish Flu epidemic spreads, killing millions of soldiers and civilians across the globe. Overwhelmed by the constant flow of wounded soldiers coming from the French front, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford must now contend with hundreds of influenza patients as well. But war and disease are not the only killers to strike. Bess discovers, concealed among the dead waiting for burial, the body of an officer who has been murdered. Though she is devoted to all her patients, this soldier's death touches her deeply. Not only did the man serve in her father's former regiment, he was also a family friend.

Before she can report the terrible news, Bess falls ill, the latest victim of the flu. By the time she recovers, the murdered officer has been buried, and the only other person who saw the body has hanged himself. Or did he?

Working her father's connections in the military, Bess begins to piece together what little evidence she can find to unmask the elusive killer and see justice served. But the tenacious and impetuous nurse must be vigilant. With a determined killer on her own heels, each move she makes may be her last.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"How many wartime casualties and heroics from Bess does it take to exhaust a reader? Unfortunately, exactly this many, despite the author's fierce antiwar sentiments." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. Caroline and Charles Todd, the mother-son team who write as Charles Todd, remain unmatched in their ability to convey the horrors of trench warfare and the effect on its participants." - Publishers Weekly

"Readers who can't get enough of Jacqueline Winspear's novels, or Hester Latterly, who saw action in the Crimean War in a series of novels by Anne Perry, are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford." - New York Times Book Review

"A wonderful new mystery series that will let us see the horrors of World War I through the eyes of Bess Crawford, battlefield nurse." - Margaret Maron

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Fran T. (San Diego, CA)
An Unmarked Grave
I have read all of Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge mysteries and the three previous mysteries featuring Bess Crawford. The Ian Rutledge mysteries are notably more complex both in plot and character development. Since Ian Rutledge is a World War l veteran with major Post Traumatic Stress (as we now call it this is not surprising.
It is my impression that when Charles and Caroline Todd began a second series featuring a woman as the protagonist that they decided to make these novels a bit lighter. As a rule, I find the Rutledge novels more to my taste for the reasons referred to above. However, this novel has a somewhat more serious tone than several of its predecessors, because Bess is not only nursing on the front, but also falls victim to the Spanish influenza and becomes gravely ill. After she recovers, she tries to solve the mystery of who murdered an officer and family friend. Her detective efforts and her nursing assignments involve her in numerous trips back and forth between England and France with various English officers and enlisted men giving her assistance along the way. When the identity of the murderer is revealed, it comes rather suddenly, without much lead-in, Nonetheless, all the various elements of the novel are resolved rather neatly and as the story closes, Bess and Simon Brandon (her possible love interest) come together again.
In my opinion, this fourth entry in the Bess Crawford series was the strongest yet and I recommend it.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Katherine T. (Atlanta, Georgia)
Unmarked grave
I had a hard time getting through Charles Todds new mystery series an Unmarked Grave. I always find it tough to be interested in one death in a situation where thousands are dead as Charles Todd asks us to do. One murder victim surrounded by thousands of victims of WWI and the spanish flu. I would have also liked a bit more background of his female sleuth, Bess Crawford. Almost felt as if I was missing the first book in the series. I did enjoy the character of the American Captain Barclay.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Kathleen D. (Hooksett, NH)
1918 . . . the French front . . . the Spanish influenza . . . a killer exploiting the cover of war
This 4th book of the Bess Crawford mysteries is, by far, the best entry to date! Beth must nurse wounded soldiers as well as battle the Spanish flu and track an elusive battlefield murderer. Although the story travels back and forth from the French font to the rural towns of England, the authors manage to keep the story line clear and exciting. In developing the story in this fashion, they remind us of the unimaginable sacrifices made on the home front. The fact that many families often lost not only one son but two, three or more is terrifying & truly difficult to comprehend. The reader experiences the rampant anxiety and chaotic confusion in the cities of disembarkation as well as the exhaustion, trepidation and absolute horror of war for those serving on the battlefields. What better place for a murderer to kill with impunity and mask his acts as the consequence of war!
This latest book is roughly 100 pages less than the previous novels--a great improvement. I found the story was more direct and developed rapidly. A clever twist in the resolution resulted in a very satisfying read.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Carolyn D. (Chico, CA)
An unremarkable grave
This book was my first Charles Todd read. The characters are appealing and the setting is well done but it never got off the ground It was a little flat; there was a lot of activity (to France and back) but not much action or forward progress. The resolution of the mystery came out of left field -- if there were clues to assist the reader in solving the puzzle, I missed them. It made for a pleasant afternoon, but I don't think I will go back to the beginning of the series. May give Ian Rutledge a try.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Dorothy T. (Victorville, CA)
Historical mystery set in WWI
Historical mysteries is not a new genre, but this is the first I have read that is set in France and England during World War I. This is the fourth book in the Bess Crawford Mysteries, and the central character is strong and likeable enough to carry the series, although I am not sure she is really a woman of her time. Bess is quite independent and self reliant in a way that makes her more suitable to a later era. That said, this is a well-written mystery, certainly not one that I was able to figure out before the end, and I did like the setting--sleuthing was definitely more difficult during the days before computers and cell phones.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Kristen K. (Atlanta, Georgia)
An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
This is a mystery set in World War I. The main character is a English nurse who works in aid stations in France. I enjoyed the book because the heroine is intelligent, independent and interesting. Apparently this book is part of a series but stands well alone. The time period is very interesting since both England and France are in such upheaval politically and culturally. It is an easy read and I think anyone who enjoys a good mystery will enjoy the book. I plan to read other books in this series.

...17 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Charles Todd Author Biography

Charles Todd is the author of nine Ian Rutledge mysteries to date, and one stand-alone novel, The Murder Stone. This USA-based mother-and-son (Charles & Caroline) writing team maintain a strong level of anonymity, even though they appear on many author panels together and Charles is a very active member of the Mystery Writers of America. They live somewhere along America's mid-Atlantic coastline.  Some biographies show Charles living in Greenville Delaware, but that simply refers to a P.O. box they maintain.  

Ian Rutledge Series

  1. A Test of Wills (1996) 
  2. Wings of Fire (1998)
  3. Search the Dark (1999)
  4. Legacy of the Dead (2000)
  5. Watchers of Time (2001)
  6. A Fearsome Doubt (2002)
  7. A Cold Treachery (2005)
  8. A Long Shadow (2006)
  9. A False Mirror (...

... Full Biography
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  • Legacy of The Dead jacket

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