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A Question of Honor: A Bess Crawford Mystery

Overview

In the latest mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, World War I nurse and amateur sleuth Bess Crawford investigates an old murder that occurred during her childhood in India, a search for the truth that will transform her and leave her pondering a troubling question: How can facts lie?

Bess Crawford enjoyed a wondrous childhood in India, where her father, a colonel in the British Army, was stationed on the Northwest Frontier. But an unforgettable incident ...

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Overview

In the latest mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, World War I nurse and amateur sleuth Bess Crawford investigates an old murder that occurred during her childhood in India, a search for the truth that will transform her and leave her pondering a troubling question: How can facts lie?

Bess Crawford enjoyed a wondrous childhood in India, where her father, a colonel in the British Army, was stationed on the Northwest Frontier. But an unforgettable incident darkened that happy time. In 1908, Colonel Crawford's regiment discovered that it had a murderer in its ranks, an officer who killed five people in India and England yet was never brought to trial. In the eyes of many of these soldiers, men defined by honor and duty, the crime was a stain on the regiment's reputation and on the good name of Bess's father, the Colonel Sahib, who had trained the killer.

A decade later, tending to the wounded on the battlefields of France during World War I, Bess learns from a dying Indian sergeant that the supposed murderer, Lieutenant Wade, is alive—and serving at the Front. Bess cannot believe the shocking news. According to reliable reports, Wade's body had been seen deep in the Khyber Pass, where he had died trying to reach Afghanistan. Soon, though, her mind is racing. How had he escaped from India? What had driven a good man to murder in cold blood?

Wanting answers, she uses her leave to investigate. In the village where the first three killings took place, she discovers that the locals are certain that the British soldier was innocent. Yet the present owner of the house where the crime was committed believes otherwise, and is convinced that Bess's father helped Wade flee. To settle the matter once and for all, Bess sets out to find Wade and let the courts decide.

But when she stumbles on the horrific truth, something that even the famous writer Rudyard Kipling had kept secret all his life, she is shaken to her very core. The facts will damn Wade even as they reveal a brutal reality, a reality that could have been her own fate.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Todd (the pseudonym of a mother-and-son writing team) once again demonstrates his talent at depicting the horrors of war in his excellent fifth mystery featuring English nurse Bess Crawford (after 2012’s An Unmarked Grave). As the carnage of WWI finally nears its end, Bess finds herself investigating murders committed a decade earlier on two different continents. In 1908, Bess was living in India with her parents when a member of her father’s regiment, Lt. Thomas Wade, came under suspicion of killing his parents. But before he could be apprehended, Wade vanished near the Khyber Pass. Although no body was recovered, he was presumed dead. While Bess is serving in France in 1918, the last words of a dying soldier persuade her that Wade might have survived. Her innate curiosity and knowledge of how traumatizing the scandal was to her father lead her to again play sleuth. In the process, she also examines the triple murder of an entire family that Wade may have committed in England before leaving for India. The extremely clever plot builds to a satisfying resolution. Agent: Jane Chelius, Jane Chelius Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Ten years after an army officer apparently killed five people, deserted his regiment and died in Afghanistan, he's back to bedevil nursing sister Bess Crawford, and vice versa. Asked to accompany Lt. William Standish's wife, Mary, home from India after the death of her 6-year-old daughter, Alice, in 1908, Lt. Thomas Wade not only agrees but wins praise from all hands for his kindness, sensitivity and consideration. So it's all the more shocking to hear that during his brief stay in England, he allegedly killed an entire family in Hampshire and then murdered his parents in cold blood before returning to the regiment commanded by Bess's father, Col. Richard Crawford. What's even more astonishing is that as the Great War limps on long after Wade's body has been spotted deep in the Khyber Pass, Subedar Shanti Gupta tells Bess just before he dies of his wounds in France that he's spotted Wade alive and serving in His Majesty's troops. Bess' mission is clear. In order to clear her father's regiment of the stain of Wade's desertion, she needs to find Wade under whatever false name he's using. In order to expunge the stain of his murders, she needs to satisfy herself whether he really killed Henry and Isabella Caswell and their daughter Gwendoline. All this while Bess is still on active duty, dealing with the horrific wounds inflicted by the war. This time around, however, Todd (An Unmarked Grave, 2012, etc.) keeps the front at a greater distance than usual, passing lightly over much of Bess' service. The war's relation to the mystery is equally discontinuous, so that anecdotes of Bess' nursing provide the same sort of background as the heroine's domestic life or romantic entanglements in less-fraught whodunits. Despite some loose threads unsatisfyingly tied up, the mystery is as strong as any Bess has confronted.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781467662383
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2013
  • Format: Other

Meet the Author

Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother-and-son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina, respectively.

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