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 by Charles Todd X
An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2012
    352 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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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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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.

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.

Annette S. (Duluth, GA)

An Unmarked Grave
I had read the first three books in the Bess Crawford series and looked forward to this fourth book. I was not disappointed. The time setting is World War I. The main character is a battle field nurse - Bess Crawford. You will learn of the horrible and sobering conditions that were experienced by the soldiers, officers and auxiliary personnel,and follow this brave nurse as she unmasks the killer while putting her own life in danger several times.

Grace W. (Corona del Mar, CA)

A War on Many Fronts
Unmarked Grave is the fourth in the Bess Crawford mystery series, yet requires no prior knowledge of the earlier books to make for a thoroughly engaging and entertaining read. Bess Crawford is a plucky and highly capable nursing sister assigned to the field hospital and aid stations in France during World War I. She is no shrinking violet in post-Victorian age of war-torn England. Unmarked Grave takes place in 1918, when the horrors and the deprivations of the war are well felt both on the battlefields and on the home front of England. Charles Todd’s depictions of war, notably the chemical gassing and field hospitals triage, are highly effective and appropriately set the stage for the mystery. The storyline is quite suspenseful and makes for a very fast-paced read.

Lori (Wayland, MA)

An Unmarked Grave-another great read
I thoroughly enjoyed this 4th book in the Bess Crawford series. I received the book as part of the First Impressions program, reading it immediately after the previous book, A Bitter Truth, which was great too. I raced through both books. Although I like Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge books as well, this series isn’t as dark and has a faster pace. This book has an interesting murder scenario, great character development and I found it interesting to learn about the flu epidemic during WWI. I would highly recommend this book and the series (which should be read in order) to readers who enjoy Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs books. These books all provide a great sense of what life was like during this time period.

Nona F. (Evanston, IL)

Best of the series to date
From its first pages, Charles Todd’s latest installment in the Bess Crawford series, An Unmarked Grave, is a compelling and suspenseful “stay up all night even if I have to get up in two hours” read. A real page-turner, this is one of the tighter plot structures in the series despite an eyebrow-raising coincidental but fateful meeting three-quarters of the way through the novel. I also felt that the identity of the murderer came out of left field and was something of a let-down in an otherwise exciting denouement. The authors’ description of Bess falling victim to the devastating flu epidemic is very effective, as is their way of showing how hospitals, families, and villages were affected. As always, character depiction and development is strong, and Bess’s relationships with her family as well as with some characters who are new to the series continue to develop. Definitely the strongest entry in this series to date.

...17 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Charles Todd Author Biography

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.

Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great-uncle who served as a flyer...

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