Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd

 Summary (courtesy of GoodReads) : World War One battlefield nurse Bess Crawford is featured for a third time in A Bitter Truth. Bess reaches out to help an abused and frightened young woman, only to discover that no good deed ever goes unpunished when the good Samaritan nurse finds herself falsely accused of murder.

And here's what I thought:   Well, that summary doesn't tell you much, does it?   I hadn't been familiar with Bess Crawford as a character before this book, but I quickly warmed up to her, and to this story.

I read Anne Perry's books, including her Inspector Monk books -- where there is a character named Hester, who is a nurse (she nursed during the Crimean War).   This book is set during the time period of World War I, so Bess has seen some time on the front lines of war.   Needless to say, she's a very straightforward, capable person who thinks through things rationally.

One night, coming home for Christmas leave, she finds a woman huddling in her doorway, trying to keep out of the bad weather.  In helping her, she gets pulled into the woman's family drama, and ultimately, a murder mystery.

I thought Todd had a really nice touch with this story, and with Bess.  I had thought Charles Todd was a male author, but, as it turns out, "Charles Todd" is a mother-and-son writing team.  The writing is so seamless - I'm not sure how they write together, but they do a great job!  There are enough characters to make things a bit confusing, so just when I thought I knew what was happening, there would be a twist.   I also liked how realistic things were -- both the English customs and manners of that time, as well as the horrors of war.   This is the third Bess Crawford book, and I'm now looking forward to finding the first two and settling in for some good reading.
First sentences: A cold rain had followed me from France to England, and an even colder wind greeted me as we pulled into the railway station in London.  As I handed in my ticket, I looked for my father, who was usually here to meet me.  Or if he couldn't come, he generally sent Simon Brandon in his place.

Thoughts on the cover:   I really like the juxtaposition of the fancy iron and the softly blurred figure of a woman -- it's a great choice for a mystery.


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