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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: A Duty To The Dead (Bess Crawford, #1) by Charles Todd

Finished reading September 6, 2013

Book Synopsis at Good Reads

The daughter of a distinguished soldier‚ Bess Crawford follows in his footsteps and signs up to go overseas as a nurse during the Great War‚ helping to deal with the many wounded. There‚ serving on a hospital ship‚ she makes a promise to a dying young lieutenant to take a message to his brother‚ Jonathan Graham: "Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother′s sake. But it has to be set right." Later‚ when her ship is sunk by a mine and she′s sidelined by a broken arm‚ Bess returns home to England‚ determined to fulfill her promise.

It′s not so easy‚ however. She travels to the village in Kent where the Grahams live and passes on to Jonathan his brother′s plea. Oddly‚ neither Jonathan‚ his mother‚ nor his younger brother admit to knowing what the message means. Then Bess learns that there′s another brother‚ incarcerated in a lunatic asylum since the age of 14 when he was accused of brutally murdering a housemaid.

Bess rightly guesses that the dying soldier′s last words had something to do with the fourth brother. Because the family seems unwilling to do anything‚ she decides that she will investigate. It′s her own duty to the dead

My Review at Good Reads

3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t really expecting to like this book; I’m not a great fan of period fiction. This book was set in England during World War I. Told in first person, the main character is a nurse on the hospital ship with an important message to deliver to the family of the soldiers that died in her care. Delivering that message proves to be the start of the mystery that will enable her to heal more than just the sick.

The cast of characters is pretty well-developed and the main heroine strong, although I did have to see that string through the accurately represented sensibilities of the time. I can appreciate, even when my modern brain found it offensive, why every passion or keen interest our main character had was questioned as “are you in love?” That was probably not a crazy question to ask a woman in the early 1900s. There were twists and surprises in the plot and although the ending was what I would’ve expected it wasn’t exactly what I expected.

In the end I liked the book and I would definitely recommend it to fans of that era and a good mystery.

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