- Series: Bess Crawford Mysteries (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (August 25, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061791768
- ISBN-13: 978-0061791765
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (359 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries) Hardcover – August 25, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
The winning first in a new WWI series from the bestselling mother-son Todds (A Matter of Justice and 10 other Inspector Rutledge mysteries) introduces Bess Crawford, a resourceful British army nurse who's injured when her ship is sunk in 1916. While convalescing in England, Bess is tormented because she's put off delivering a message from Arthur Graham, a dying soldier under her care for whom she'd developed strong feelings, to his family. Her own brush with death prompts her to travel to Kent and transmit Arthur's cryptic last words to one of his three brothers. Bess becomes further enmeshed in the family's affairs after she learns the obscure message may relate to Graham's half-brother, Peregrine, who was committed to a local asylum for a girl's murder years before. The more Bess seeks to sate her curiosity, the more she suspects that the truth about the murder was suppressed. Fans of independent women sleuths like Maisie Dobbs will welcome this new addition to their ranks. (Sept.)
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“Winning....Fans of independent women sleuths like Maisie Dobbs will welcome this new addition to their ranks.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Anyone who cares to loll in early-20th century English villages and mores and follow a plucky heroine as she confronts the stupidity of war will find solace in this old-fashioned mystery.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Todd employs all the elements of a satisfying cozy mystery, with an absorbing plot and a charismatic heroine that will leave the reader wanting more.” (Library Journal)
“Full of rich historical details, this novel contrasts the beauty of the English countryside with the horrors of a war that devastated families....Absorbing.” (Romantic Times)
“Readers who can’t get enough of Maisie Dobbs, the intrepid World War I battlefield nurse in 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)
“The superb start of a new historical series....A welcome old-fashioned mystery and a brilliant start to a character with plenty more to discover in future books.” (New Mystery Reader)
“A compelling story, a complex mystery and a revealing look deep into human nature.” (Winston-Salem Journal (NC))
“A tense psychological drama, steeped in the tragedy of the Great War.” (Iron Mountain Daily (Michigan))
“Todd’s novels are known for compelling plotting with a thoughtful whodunit aspect, rich characterization, evocative prose and haunting atmosphere, and A Duty to the Dead excels at each. Another moving entry in a growing and distinguished body of work, it is neither easily put down nor easily forgotten.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
“A Duty to the Dead has all the elements of a good mystery—action, suspense, murder, love, a damsel in distress.” (Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City))
“Another winner....Todd again excels at vivid atmosphere and the effects of war in this specific time and place. Grade: A.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“The Todd books offer an insight into and a grim reminder of the avalanche of broken bodies and minds that came back from France in 1918 as well as a reminder of how little was done to restore them.” (Washington Times on A Duty to the Dead)
“An absorbing story that will not disappoint Todd’s fans.” (Contra Costa Times on A Duty to the Dead)
“Here is a brave, smart and likable young heroine who will please Todd fans.” (Evansville Courier & Press on A Duty to the Dead)
“This is a wonderful new mystery series that will let us see the horrors of World War I through the eyes of Bess Crawford, a battlefield nurse. A Duty to the Dead is a richly realistic depiction of both the era and people who lived through it. (Margaret Maron, Edgar Award–Winning author of Death’s Half Acre)
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Top customer reviews
I enjoyed the mystery. I thought it was well constructed and I changed my mind several times before settling on the culprit. Even then, there were some shocking moments.
My one criticism is the sometimes unbelievable behavior of Bess. She had an incredible amount of freedom for an early twentieth century woman, especially considering her upbringing. And the fact that complete strangers were willing to be interrogated by a young single woman about circumstances that were clearly none of her concern was simply unbelievable at times. Todd also left a few loose ends dangling. One plot point in particular was never tied up or explained. Simply dropped.
Overall though, I enjoyed the book. I bought the first and second book at a reduced price from Amazon, but I'm not sure if I will follow the series beyond book two. While I liked Bess and I think the idea of battlefield nurse/detective is intriguing and unique, I think the concept is limited. How many murders can a young, army nurse possibly happen across before plots become contrived and outside the bounds of believability? Not many, I wager.
The story lines carry you deep into an experience of England at the time, made up of remote villages, strict classes, and a sooty foggy London that serves mostly to house Scotland Yard and Piccadilly Train Station.
The crimes and story lines are excellent. Nothing here feels contrived. The plot flows along from the initial event (Crawford) or crime (Rutledge) as the author introduces the characters and begins layering the story elements like a delectable lasagna.
Is there any joy that compares to finding a "new" author? Yes, finding a new prolific author ;)
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