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A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries) Paperback – May 1, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 203 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Makes fine work of the brooding atmosphere.” (New York Times Book Review on A Bitter Truth)

“Outstanding.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review) on A Bitter Truth)

“Bess is a very strong series lead, the historical setting is as well developed here as it is in the Rutledge books, and the mysteries are just as elegantly constructed. Readers who have yet to sample the Crawford series should be strongly encouraged to do so.” (Booklist on A Bitter Truth)

“Few writers surpass Todd in depicting the insanity of war.” (Kirkus Reviews on A Bitter Truth)

“Todd brings World War I England and France to life with an intriguing plot and an intrepid sleuth.” (Library Journal on A Bitter Truth)

“A thoughtful mystery with an excellent plot, well-drawn characters and wonderful atmosphere.” (Associated Press on A Bitter Truth)

“A well-envisaged plot, a deep sense of time and place and characters drawn with care and compassion.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch on A Bitter Truth)

“Charles Todd has developed believable characters that carry along this story with lightning speed from the first page to the last.” (New York Journal of Books on A Bitter Truth)

“The Todds excel at complex characterizations....For lovers of upper-drawer British whodunnits and Anglophiles in general, A Bitter Truth should prove a sweet treat indeed.” (Wilmington Star-News on A Bitter Truth)

“A lovely picture of a slower world.” (Charlotte Observer on A Bitter Truth)

“A thoughtful mystery with an excellent plot, well-drawn characters and wonderful atmosphere.” (Indianapolis Star on A Bitter Truth)

“Combines believable characters, gut-wrenching suspense and a sobering commentary on the ravages of war.” (Deseret News on A Bitter Truth)

“Highly recommended—well-rounded, believable characters, a multi-layered plot solidly based on human nature, all authentically set in the England of 1917, make A Bitter Truth an outstanding and riveting read.” (Stephanie Laurens, New York Times bestselling author)

“Readers will enjoy Todd’s plucky, determined sleuth and a thrilling mystery that proves murders on the home front don’t stop just because there’s a war.” (Library Journal on An Impartial Witness)

“Bess Crawford is a strong and likable character.” (Washington Times on An Impartial Witness)

“A superb whodunit—just when you think you have it figured out, Todd throws a curve—and a moving evocation of a world at war.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness)

“A smartly plotted, well-told mystery.” (Booklist on An Impartial Witness)

“A book rich in atmosphere and dense with plot.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness)

“Todd’s excellent second mystery featuring British nurse Bess Crawford smoothly blends realistic characters with an intricate plot.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review) on An Impartial Witness)

“Find some cures for the post-Downton Abbey blues ... Charles Todd has been producing a series of highly praised detective novels set in the years immediately after World War I.” (Tulsa World Scene)

From the Back Cover

While attempting to help a woman in distress, World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford learns a bitter truth, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Returning to her London flat from the front lines in France for a well-earned Christmas leave, Bess Crawford comes upon a bruised and shivering woman huddled in the doorway. Propelled by pity, Bess takes her in. Yet despite the ill effects of a concussion suffered during a quarrel with her husband that erupted into violence, the woman decides to return home, and asks Bess to travel with her to Sussex.

At Vixen Hill, Bess discovers a family in mourning for an elder son who has died of war wounds, and a husband tormented by jealousy and his own guilty conscience. But when a troubled houseguest meets an untimely death, Bess finds herself the prime suspect, and on the trail of a vicious killer that leads back to war-torn France toward a startling revelation that will place her life in dire jeopardy.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bess Crawford Mysteries (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062015710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062015716
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge books and all of the Bess Crawford books and up until now I have been a great fan. This latest book in the WWI Nurse Bess Crawford series is a huge disappointment.
About one third of the way into the book, it was so tedious I put it down. I then read a book by another author. However, since I did purchase A Bitter Truth, I eventually tried again and plodded through to the end.
Unfortunately, all of the characters in this book, with the exception of Bess and Simon, are unlikable, whining, nasty, overbearing soap opera-like characters with no redeeming qualities. The plot is preposterous and the author spends most of the book throwing around red herrings. The actual solution to the mystery is from out of left field. This is an uncharacteristically bad book from Charles Todd. The bitter truth is, this book is not worth investing in and should be borrowed from the Library.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Christmas approaches and WWI battlefield nurse Bess Crawford arrives back at her London digs on leave from France only to discover a battered wife on her doorstep. She takes her in and, at the woman--Lydia's--request, accompanies her home to the dreariest corner of Sussex just as the extended family is about to gather together for a memorial event for Lydia's deceased brother-in-law.

Murder ensues. As do rumors of an illegitimate child. Then comes another death--is this one a suicide or is it also murder? Are all these things connected? And if so, how?

I think this third entry in the newest British WWI era mystery series by the American mother and son team that writes under the name of Charles Todd works a bit better than the first two because it puts Bess smack dab in the middle of the muddle from the get-go and thus her collecting of clues and conjectures requires fewer far-out coincidences and less Miss Marple-ish busybodiness to propel the plot.

I didn't love this book--I thought the "who" in the whodunit should have been a more prominent and better developed character--but I liked it, especially the scenes that involved Bess's being back in battle-torn France where her investigations were more in character and thus more believable than in the first two books of this series. And I look forward to the next one. But I remain a bigger fan of Scotland Yard Inspector Rutledge, star of the Todds' longer running series. At least so far.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the third entry in the Charles Todd series featuring WWI nurse Bess Crawford. In this story, Bess is on her way from France to her parents' home to spend the Christmas holiday with them. She arrives in London too late to catch the train home so she goes to her flat. There, huddled against the cold, she finds a stranger, a woman named Lydia. Impulsively, she offers the woman shelter in her flat. The next day, the woman begs Bess to accompany her as she returns to her family estate in Sussex. Bess agrees to do so. While in Sussex, Bess becomes embroiled in the family's business. When one of the family's guests is murdered, Bess is further detained from her leave. Eventually, she is allowed to return to her unit in France, but not before promising Lydia to try to find a child no one in the family knew about before the night of the murder.

It seems completely out of character for Bess to return to England to spend the Christmas holidays with her much beloved parents only to be diverted by some stranger who ends up on her door stoop. That she heads off to Sussex with a complete stranger is even more confounding. She totally ignores her parents who are anticipating her arrival. Why Bess does these things is a mystery to those who have read the other books in this series. It seems so irresponsible for the sensible Bess. Then there's the whole business of Bess spending what little leave she receives while in France running around the war-torn country in search of a child who is no relation to her or even to a close friend seemed a bit too contrived and meddlesome even for Bess Crawford.

This is touted as a mystery, but it isn't really. Yes, there are murders, but Bess has no connection to them, she only superficially knows the suspects and one of the victims.
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Format: Hardcover
I love the Charles Todd books - at least all those prior to this one.

However, this latest effort ,the third on the Bess Crawford series, is a huge disappointment! I found it utterly dreary - the plots sags, the characters are shallow, totally uninteresting and unpleasant (with the exception of a minor character, an Australian sergeant, but this one is overdrawn - a charicature). Our heroine once again starts interfering with some stranger's household when she's supposed to be going home on leave , and the ponderous way this is handled by the authors makes Bess come across as a self-righteous, interfering, meddlesome and quite unlikeable spinster. Much of her narrative is an unrelenting whine ..... There is no joy anywhere to be found, no lightness of being, no sense of contrast so essential to any good fiction) .......

Why Bess should want to spend time with these totally unlikeable people is beyond me. And why should I want to spend my time reading about them ? Life's too short for this unrelenting, depressing, tedium.
I really couldn't care who committed the murders......I just wanted to finish the book - a chore, to say the least. Sorry, Charles Todd, but you can do SOOO much better.
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