Review: An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

Description (from cover):

‘World War I nurse Bess Crawford, introduced in A Duty to the Dead, returns in an exciting new mystery in which a murder draws her inexorably into the sights of a cunning killer.
It is the early summer of 1917. Bess Crawford has returned to England from the trenches of France with a convoy of severely wounded men. One of her patients is a young pilot who has been burned beyond recognition, and who clings to life and the photo of his wife that is pinned to his tunic.
While passing through a London train station, Bess notices a woman bidding an emotional farewell to an officer, her grief heart-wrenching. And then Bess realizes that she seems familiar. In fact, she’s the woman in the pilot’s photo, but the man she is seeing off is not her husband.
Back on duty in France, Bess discovers a newspaper with a drawing of the woman’s face on the front page. Accompanying the drawing is a plea from Scotland Yard seeking information from anyone who has seen her. For it appears that the woman was murdered on the very day Bess encountered her at the station.
Granted leave to speak with Scotland Yard, Bess becomes entangled in the case. Though an arrest is made, she must delve into the depths of her very soul to decide if the police will hang an innocent man or a vicious killer. Exposing the truth is dangerous–and will put her own life on the life.’

My thoughts:

Having just finished this first one in this series, A Duty to the Dead, I knew that I wanted to continue along and read the next one. I love Bess Crawford’s character. She is fierce, loyal and naturally inquisitive. Her sense of justice does not allow her mind to rest when she fears injustice has been done. And that is exactly what happens in this novel. An innocent man is charged with murder and is set to hang, but Bess knows in her heart that he is not capable of this murder and she sets out to determine who the real killer is without regard to the danger she is placing herself in.
I know that in my previous review of A Duty to the Dead, I made the comparison between Maisie Dobbs and Bess Crawford. While there are a lot of similarities (ie: World War I settings, England, female sleuths, etc.) they are quite different. I think that as a reader I enjoy Bess’ character more than that of Maisie. Maisie has a hint of mystery that kind of makes her seem standoffish to the reader and with the other characters. Bess Crawford is all charm and the reader can’t help but enjoy her character. Don’t get me wrong, I love Maisie Dobbs, but Bess Crawford seems to be a more enjoyable character for me.
This book is the second in the Bess Crawford mysteries and while it was good, it was a little predictable. I figured out the twist right before it was revealed, so not too early on, but still a little obvious in a sense. It still was a great mystery set amongst the backdrop of World War I and features Bess in her sleuthing mode as well as her nursing role. Hopefully the series will pick up and be more surprising along the way, but I am continuing with the next book in this series, because I enjoy the characters and can’t wait to see what happens next.

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  An Impartial Witness
Author:  Charles Todd
Series:  Bess Crawford Mystery #2
Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date:  August 16, 2011 (Reissue)
Pages:  368
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was purchased by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

One thought on “Review: An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

  1. I'm glad to read that you're now more a fan of Bess than Maisie 🙂 I agree that the first book was a little better, but I think the series as a whole is fantastic. Bess is a great heroine.


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