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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.
Katherine T. (Atlanta, Georgia)
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.
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.
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!
Carolyn D. (Chico, CA)
An unremarkable grave
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dorothy M. (Owatonna, MN)
For fans of the Charles Todd series, this is a must read. Bess Crawford is a military nurse who spends grueling hours in a WWI front line hospital. To make matters more difficult the Spanish influenza pandemic hits both patients and staff. One of the orderlies comes to Bess about a curious body he has found when he was preparing to dig graves for the dead patients. She recognizes immediately this is a case of murder and she knows who the soldier is. Before she can act on this information she collapses with the flu. She recovers back in England but wonders if she is having a nightmare about the death. When more bodies fall, she heads back to the front line to investigate. Several times her life is threatened, but with the help of others, she solves the crime. The Todds, as usual, have several interestingly developed characters who move the story along. For readers who enjoy historical fiction and mysteries, this should be a good book.
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.