A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd

As she heads home, on leave from the ongoing First World War, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford finds a troubled young woman huddled in her doorway. With the biting cold London air chilling them both, Bess invites the woman inside. With the interior lighting now clearly illuminating the young woman, Bess recognizes that the woman appears to have been recently stuck in the face. Despite the fear and protests from the woman, Bess invites her to, at least, stay the night.

The next day, Bess learns that the woman, Lydia, has run away from her home after an altercation with her husband. While Bess had planned to visit her own family during her leave, she agrees to accompany Lydia back home, to offer support for reconciling with her husband, Roger Ellis, and to monitor what, she fears, may be a concussion. Upon arrival, they find the family grieving the recent loss of Roger's brother and the still haunting loss of his young sister many years ago. Bess agrees to stay for a meal between the family and friends in anticipation for the laying of the memorial stone on the brother's grave the following morning. When one of the men, also in attendance at the meal, is found dead the next day, Bess finds herself as a suspect in the middle of a murder investigation. 

This is not a typical action driven story. The mother/son author team has crafted an intricate, character driven, English mystery, similar to those of author P.D. James. I appreciated the strong character development and the well-imagined relationship between families, strongly affected by the war. Sometimes, the drama between the characters seemed to verge on soap opera level, but I felt that the mystery was strong enough to overcome these slight faults. While fans of fast paced thrillers may find this a bit slow, I think those looking for strong characters and a believable mystery will enjoy this book. 

For more information, visit the author's website 

(week 4, book 4)

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 22, 2012 and is filed under ,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

7 Responses to “A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd”

  1. New follower via book blogs, thought I would say hi! Trev @ trevsliteraryreview.blogspot.com

  2. Fab review!
    New follower :-)

    Viktoria @ http://ttoria.blogspot.com

  3. Great review! I've been wanting to read the Bess Crawford series because I've heard great things about it-- just haven't gotten around to it yet, ha. I have read The Murder Stone, however, and greatly enjoyed it. I would agree that their writing is more in the tradition of vintage mysteries rather than a fast-paced thriller, which I like. I'll trade action-packed writing for a passel of strong English characters any day ;)

    1. This was definitely a nice change of pace. Are you a fan of P.D. James as well?

  4. Ethan,
    You're a natural for a reviewer. I've been a fan of this series and your review makes me move this book to the top of my list.

    1. Thanks! I enjoy reading your reviews as well.


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