Description (from cover):
‘From the brilliantly imaginative New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd comes an unforgettable new character in an exceptional new series.
England, 1916. Independent-minded Bess Crawford’s upbringing is far different from that of the usual upper-middle-class British gentlewoman. Growing up in India, she learned the importance of responsibility, honor, and duty from her officer father. At the outbreak of World War I, she followed in his footsteps and volunteered for the nursing corps, serving from the battlefields of France to the doomed hospital ship Britannic.
On one voyage, Bess grows fond the young, gravely wounded Lieutenant Arthur Graham. Something rests heavily on his conscience, and to give him a little peace as he dies, she promises to deliver a message to his brother. It is some months before she can carry out this duty, and when she’s next in England, she herself is recovering from a wound.
When Bess arrives at the Graham house in Kent, Jonathan Graham listens to his brother’s last wishes with surprising indifference. Neither his mother nor his brother Timothy seems to think it has any significance. Unsettled by this, Bess is about to take her leave when sudden tragedy envelops her. She quickly discover that fulfilling this duty to the dead has thrust her into a maelstrom of intrigue and murder that will endanger her own life and test her courage as not even war has.’
This series has caught my eye for years. After reading Maisie Dobbs and loving it, this series comes highly recommended by lovers of both series. I knew that when the Amazon Kindle store had the first couple books in this series on sale that I had to get them and see what the hype was all about. I have only read one Charles Todd book before and it was a stand-alone and I thought it was fantastic. I was sure to love this one and I was not disappointed. I know know why people are endeared by Bess Crawford’s character and why they love this series. I stayed up late to read the last 75 pages or so as it was such a page turner that I simply knew I couldn’t put it down.
Bess Crawford feels like it is her duty to find the family and deliver the last message of a fatally-wounded soldier that she has come to care for. While the message itself if clouded with mystery, she is more surprised by the Graham’s reaction to their brother and son’s last wishes. They seem to shrug off the importance of Arthur Graham’s dying wish and it bothers Bess to know end. She wants to know what weighed heavily on Arthur’s soul at the time of his death. Her naturally inquisitive personality and her eagerness for doing what is right leads her right into events that quickly spin out of control. She has to keep her head as she has willfully put herself into grave danger.
I really like this era for my mysteries. This series reminds me a lot of the Maisie Dobbs series and it is almost impossible to state which one I like the best. I think Bess’ character is more endearing and approachable than Maisie’s and that Maisie is more reserved than Bess. I think this is what really made me like Bess. I am eager to read more in this series and see how the author chooses to develop this amazing character in the next books. If you loved the Maisie Dobbs series, I highly recommend this series as something that is very similar, but yet different in its own way.
Overall Rating: 4.5
Title: A Duty to the Dead
Author: Charles Todd
Series: Bess Crawford Mystery #1
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 17, 2010 (Reprint)
Genre: Historical Mystery
Get It: Amazon; Barnes & Noble
Disclaimer: This book was selected purchased by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.
2 thoughts on “Review: A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd”
We read this for book club last year and everyone really enjoyed it! I have yet to continue the series, though.
Great review, Kimberlee. I love this series! I think your comparison to the Maisie Dobbs series is a good one, although I the Bess Crawford series better.