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A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Series #1)

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

Charles Todd has started another winning historical mystery series.

In 1916, British army nurse Bess Crawford is injured when the hospital ship she is on is hit. However while she recovers she promised dying soldier Arthur Graham she would deliver his last words to his brother Jonathan that he lied for their mother's sake.

Believi...
In 1916, British army nurse Bess Crawford is injured when the hospital ship she is on is hit. However while she recovers she promised dying soldier Arthur Graham she would deliver his last words to his brother Jonathan that he lied for their mother's sake.

Believing strongly she owes A DUTY TO THE DEAD, Bess heads to Kent to transmit the message. She learns that another brother of Arthur, Peregrine, has been locked up in an asylum since he was a young teen for murdering the housemaid; he is also dying from pneumonia and desperately needs expert nursing; Bess agrees to provide it and after spending some time with her new patient concludes he is sane though he has selective amnesia not recalling the tragedy that condemned him. As she tends to Peregrine, another patient of hers commits suicide, but something about the death disturbs Bess. When Peregrine recovers much of his health, he flees taking Bess with him as he tries to regain his lost memory of what happened to Lily. Bess further learns of other suspicious deaths since Peregrine was locked away that makes her suspect other family members including her favorite patient, the late Arthur.

Although Inspector Rutledge takes a needed rest, fans will enjoy this strong WWI village amateur sleuth starring a spunky lead character, reminiscent of Winspear's Maisie Dobbs early years, caught in the middle of a family drama. The story line brings out the horrors of war through Bess' ailing and dying patients while the whodunit is cleverly devised so the audience and the nurse will keep guessing until the climax. Charles Todd has started another winning historical mystery series.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on August 15, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Good story.

I had a little bit of a hard time getting into this book. Once I did, I found myself thinking of the characters when I wasn`reading. This was a new author for me. I will purchase another one of his books.

posted by Anonymous on July 8, 2013

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Charles Todd has started another winning historical mystery series.

    In 1916, British army nurse Bess Crawford is injured when the hospital ship she is on is hit. However while she recovers she promised dying soldier Arthur Graham she would deliver his last words to his brother Jonathan that he lied for their mother's sake.

    Believing strongly she owes A DUTY TO THE DEAD, Bess heads to Kent to transmit the message. She learns that another brother of Arthur, Peregrine, has been locked up in an asylum since he was a young teen for murdering the housemaid; he is also dying from pneumonia and desperately needs expert nursing; Bess agrees to provide it and after spending some time with her new patient concludes he is sane though he has selective amnesia not recalling the tragedy that condemned him. As she tends to Peregrine, another patient of hers commits suicide, but something about the death disturbs Bess. When Peregrine recovers much of his health, he flees taking Bess with him as he tries to regain his lost memory of what happened to Lily. Bess further learns of other suspicious deaths since Peregrine was locked away that makes her suspect other family members including her favorite patient, the late Arthur.

    Although Inspector Rutledge takes a needed rest, fans will enjoy this strong WWI village amateur sleuth starring a spunky lead character, reminiscent of Winspear's Maisie Dobbs early years, caught in the middle of a family drama. The story line brings out the horrors of war through Bess' ailing and dying patients while the whodunit is cleverly devised so the audience and the nurse will keep guessing until the climax. Charles Todd has started another winning historical mystery series.

    Harriet Klausner

    13 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    This is a new author for me, and I enjoyed it very much.  The st

    This is a new author for me, and I enjoyed it very much.  The story line left you guessing, I was particularly interested
    in how PTSD was treated in that era.  The main character, Bess, did not let up when obstacles got in 
    the way of finding out the truth.  I look forward to more from this author.  You will not be disappointed.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2013

    A must read...

    A story based on time period of the Great War, it was very descriptive of the time. My interest was kept from beginning to end.
    You can see and feel how it was to live during that time frame. What was expected of women of the time. Bess Crawford is an independent woman who can think on her feet and solve mysteries. I immediately bought the next two in the series and am awaiting impatient;y for the fourth. Very nice read.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Suspense till the end

    Bess Crawford is that kick-butt relative you wish you had in your family tree. Right off the bat the author shows that Bess is not one to be underestimated. The author also shows how soldiers were treated back then with PTSD. But Bess was such a compelling character, never taking anything at face value and then just doing whatever the heck she was going to do anyway. Whether it was questioning a suicide as murder or helping an escaped mental patient she's going to do what she wants. Especially when she has her father's extremely loyal friend Simon Brandon always willing to protect her. (Though come on he is totally in love with her she's just really slow on the uptake). But I totally recommend this book and the rest of the series to anyone.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2010

    A Mystery in line with Massie Dobbs series

    I have been a devoted reader of the Massie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. A Duty to the Dead is of the same genre. The heroine Bess Crawford is very likable. Hopefully there will be more in this series. The book held me from the beginning to the end. Well written. Very unusual that a mother and son would write such an engaging book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012

    Great start to a series.

    If you like a story set in England, read this. Todd incorporates the history of WW2
    with a family that is deceptive and cruel. You will be drawn into this story and won't let go until the end. Then, you will want more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2012

    A Duty to the Dead

    I read a lot of books and discovered this writer and Bess Crawford
    series much to my delight. I ordered all the complete series as they
    are very intriguing and suspense right down to the last few pages.
    I highly recommend this book and the rest of the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2012

    Really Enjoyed This

    The stories, like the Ian Rutledge series by the same authors, are well written, with sympathetic characters and good plots. These take place during WWI in England. Bess Crawford is a nurse alternately at the front and back in England on leave. One character overlaps in both series. I liked these well enough to be reading my way through them and passing them on to a friend who also loves them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Brilliant

    I don't read a lot of historical fiction and I've never read anything by Charles Todd. After reading A Duty to the Dead, I have to say that I've been missing out. Todd is a brilliant writer. He weaves an old-fashioned mystery around a World War I nurse. Todd does a masterful job of immersing the reader in the characters' world. You will feel like you've stepped out of the 21st century and back into the early 1900s. A truly enjoyable read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2014

    Excellent story.

    I have enjoyed all of the books by Charles Todd. His Inspector Ian Rutledge series, with WWI as a background location have been exciting. Now this A Duty to the Dead, features Bess Crawford, a WWI battlefield nurse.
    The stories, as the characters are believable.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014

    dm

    Excellent. Can't wait to read the next one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 29, 2014

    Well-written with a compelling lead character.  The mystery kept

    Well-written with a compelling lead character.  The mystery kept me guessing, while the historical settings and behaviors added another level of interest.  I look forward to reading more from this impressive writing team.  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2014

    This is a marvelous book - the first in a series of 3.

    I loved this book and immediately purchased the next 2 in the series. It takes place during WWI, in France and England, and really makes the war real. We learn so much about how it affects everyday life. Of course it's a mystery......and I couldn't figure out who did it until revealed in the last chapter, always a sign of a good author. This is not a book to skim in a hurry, but one to savor!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2014

    Great book!

    The novel starts with a shipwreck in the middle of World War I, but soon turns the heroine from a hospital ship nurse into a first class sleuth when she finally agrees to deliver a message from a dead soldier. While I was already a fan of the Ian Rutledge series by the author, I now look forward to more from this series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    A good mystery

    Really enjoyed this book. Well written historical mystery that held my interest & kept me guessing throughout. Can't wait to read more by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Very interesting and hard to put down

    A fast read and good story line.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Good Story

    I purchased this book because it was the suggestion of the day. I enjoyed it. It kept my attention from the very start.

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    Hhighly recommend

    Good reading will hold your interest

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013

    Excellent!

    A most enjoyable summer read!

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  • Posted July 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This was a very touching story with just the right amount of his

    This was a very touching story with just the right amount of history, intrigue, and personal determination.  Great way to begin an excellent series.

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