An Unmarked Grave (Bess Crawford Series #4)

An Unmarked Grave (Bess Crawford Series #4)

4.2 25
by Charles Todd
     
 

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“A wonderful new mystery series that will let us see the horrors of World War I through the eyes of Bess Crawford, battlefield nurse.”
—Margaret Maron

“Readers who can’t get enough of Jacqueline Winspear’s novels, or Hester Latterly, who saw action in the Crimean War in a series of novels by Anne Perry, are bound to be caught up

Overview

“A wonderful new mystery series that will let us see the horrors of World War I through the eyes of Bess Crawford, battlefield nurse.”
—Margaret Maron

“Readers who can’t get enough of Jacqueline Winspear’s novels, or Hester Latterly, who saw action in the Crimean War in a series of novels by Anne Perry, are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford.”
New York Times Book Review

The critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of the Ian Rutledge mystery series, Charles Todd once again spotlights World War I nurse Bess Crawford in An Unmarked Grave. Gripping, powerful, and evocative, this superb mystery masterwork unfolds during the deadly Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918, as Bess discovers the body of a murdered British officer among the many dead and sets out to unmask a craven killer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in the spring of 1918, bestseller Todd’s outstanding fourth Bess Crawford mystery (after 2011’s A Bitter Truth) finds the British nurse and her co-workers in France contending with the Spanish influenza epidemic as well as battlefield carnage. When the number of flu victims kept in a shed before burial is one more than the official count, Bess is shocked to discover the corpse of Maj. Vincent Carson, who once served in her father’s old regiment, in the shed. That the major’s neck is broken suggests that his body was dumped amid the flu victims to conceal his murder. Before Bess can act on her suspicions, she catches the dread disease herself, leaving the trail to the truth even fainter on her recovery. Caroline and Charles Todd, the mother-son team who write as Charles Todd, remain unmatched in their ability to convey the horrors of trench warfare and the effect on its participants. Agent: Jane Chelius, Jane Chelius Literary Agency. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Plucky battlefield nurse Bess Crawford (A Bitter Truth, 2011, etc.) fights World War I diseases, deserters and more. When Pvt. Wilson, heading up the burial detail, notices that one of the corpses has no wounds except for a broken neck, he summons nurse Bess Crawford to decide what to do. Bess recognizes the victim as Maj. Vincent Carson, a former member of her father's old regiment. But before she can get a message to her dad, the Col. Sahib, she's stricken with influenza, falls into a coma, and is shipped home from Ypres to Dorset. In recovery, she volunteers at Somerset's Longleigh House clinic, where a wounded Yank, Capt. Thomas Barclay, becomes semismitten and helps her investigate who might have wanted Carson dead. Simon Brandon, her father's former batman now handling classified assignments for the government, also tries to help, but is seriously wounded before making much headway. Bess returns to France, as does the Yank. Soon enough she must face death twice, confront a deserter with good intentions, shoot a purported British officer in the head, sort through the whereabouts and motives of seven brothers, keep tabs on the Kaiser and the Prince of Wales, and worry about poor Simon's state of health. Her father will have to step in to see to her safety, but peripatetic Bess, who crosses the channel innumerable times, sets matters right. How many wartime casualties and heroics from Bess does it take to exhaust a reader? Unfortunately, exactly this many, despite the author's fierce antiwar sentiments. Readers weary of Bess can take refuge in Todd's Ian Rutledge series (The Confession, 2012, etc.).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062015723
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/05/2012
Series:
Bess Crawford Series, #4
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.08(h) x 0.95(d)

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Meet the Author

Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and one stand-alone novel. A mother-and-son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina, respectively.

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An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received An Unmarked Grave from a free goodreads giveaway. I really enjoyed this book. Nurse Bess Crawford discovers the body of an officer that had been murdered and left in a shed among the bodies of Spanish flu victims and war casualties to be buried. The officer was a member of her father's regiment and a family friend. Before Bess can notify anyone, she collapses from the flu infection. When Bess finally recovers, she learns that the orderly who brought the murdered officer to her attention had committed suicide. The story follows Bess trying to piece together what really happened to the officer, the orderly and others who have crossed path with the murderer. Between the war going on, the flu epidemic and a murderer on the loose, An Umarked Grave is an exciting mystery.
Twink More than 1 year ago
I recently had a patron ask if I knew of a good historical mystery series for her. She was older, and said she liked stories set in the war years such as Charles Todd's Bess Crawford books. (which she highly recommended) Well, I did indeed have a series for her, but although I was familiar with Charles Todd's Inspector Rutledge series, I had never read one of the Bess Crawford books. Her recommendation resulted in me picking up the latest installment of this series - An Unmarked Grave. Bess Crawford is a World War I nurse. 1918 finds her at the front lines in France, with war casualties and the Spanish influenza contributing equally to the dead waiting to be buried. But when an orderly points out a body to Bess that isn't wrapped right, she is shocked to find she recognizes the man from her father's regiment. It wasn't the flu or war that killed him - she suspects foul play. But exhausted and physically worn down, she falls prey to the flu herself before she can report what she thinks might be murder. Back in England she does advise her father of her suspicions. But the body is long buried. Did she imagine what she saw? Or is there a murderer in the ranks? Bess is determined to find the answer and wants to return to France. Todd's writing brought this time period to life. The dialogue, social mores and expectations of the time were wonderfully depicted, creating a strong sense of atmosphere. Bess is such a great character - kind, dutiful, compassionate, strong, determined and intelligent. All of the characters were equally well drawn and just as engaging. I liked the idea of a woman being the sleuth in this time period, when men were the traditional 'leaders'. Bess is more than up to the task. The plotting is good, slowly unravelling over time. This is a gentler mystery, meant to be savoured and enjoyed. I choose to listen to A Unmarked Grave. The reader was Audie award winner Rosalyn Landor. She has a wonderfully rich, crisp British accent that perfectly suited the mental image I had of Bess. She portrayed all of the characters just as well. Most of the other characters were male and Landor came up with believable voices for them. Bess's father had a nice, gruff, regimental tone. The 'yank' soldier's voice was spot on as well. Her voice added much to the overall feel of the book, conveying emotion and setting easily. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be picking up another in this series. Fans of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs character would enjoy this series. (This was my recommendation to my patron)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I appreciated very much that this book had no profanity or four-letter words, and was written in an educated literary, rather than slangy, style. It also provided specifics about how the war and flu affected people at that time. But it was more a romance than a mystery. It seemed like all the men fell in love with the heroine, and too much of the plot relied on coincidences and contrivances to explain the what, why, and how of the mystery.
Paperback_Princess More than 1 year ago
You know how when you watch a movie trailer, you know the entire plot of the movie from those three minutes? And you know how sometimes that can happen with book synopses? It didn't happen with this book. Honestly, the synopses covers the first 3 chapters at best, and I kinda loved that because I had no idea what to expect from this book. As far as historical time periods go, I do love the Tudors, but the World War One/World War Two era is also a favorite of mine. I also liked that it combined my a lot of my favorites: accurate historical fiction, plagues, mystery and action. I liked that Bess was on practically on the battlefield during several scenes, including one where she saw the gas coming for them, and she rushed to put on her mask and cover her skin. If you noticed at the top, this book is part of a series and is in fact the fourth book in her adventures. I was a little confused at some points because certain people or facts weren't explained, probably because they were explained in earlier installments. Nothing really hindered the understanding of the story, it was mostly little things that were pre-established that I already missed. The plot was pretty intense with lots of action and some romance which I liked. I feel like most books will contain some kind of romantic undercurrent, and while this one did, it was a lot more subtle than other books are about it. Bess wasn't asking for any kind of romantic come ons, and there hardly were any. I did like that the men in this book were gentlemen - men need to go back to this chivalry and being a gentleman. Even though this book wasn't really about the Spanish Influenza, I didn't feel cheated at all. I still loved the plot of this book because it followed a headstrong woman who ordinarily would have been shoved out of the equation, but she didn't let herself be bullied and I loved it. I think even though I've read book 4, I'll go back and read them from the beginning again.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
France, Spring, 1918 I stopped just outside the ward and leaned my head against the cool wood of the doorframe. I couldn't remember when last I'd slept, or, for that matter, eaten anything more than a few biscuits now and again with a hasty cup of tea. The Spanish Influenza had already cut down three of our nursing sisters, and two doctors were not expected to live through the night. The rest of us were struggling to keep men alive in the crowded wards and losing the battle hourly. Depressing to watch the bodies being carried out, one more soldier lost to an enemy we couldn't even see. It was an insidious killer, this influenza. I'd watched men in the best of healthy in the afternoon gasping for breath by the next morning, tossing with fever, lying too ill to speak, then fighting to draw a next breath. I'd watched nurses and orderlies work with patients for days on end without showing a single sign of illness, only to collapse unexpectedly and join the ranks of the dying. The young were particularly vulnerable. On the other hand, Private Wilson, close to forty, seemed to be spared, even though he handled the dead, gently wrapping them in their soiled sheets and carrying them out to await interment. The shed just beyond the wards was filled with bodies, sometimes tacked like lumber. The burial details couldn't keep up. And those men too were dying. (pg 1-2). In the latest novel from Charles Todd, An Unmarked Grave takes readers back to the chilling period of time as WW1 was just beginning while the Spanish Influenza was taking lives faster than the war wounded. Some wondered if there would be anyone left to fight the war. As Private Wilson is taking count of the bodies in the shed, separating the war dead from those that the illness had claimed, he noticed one extra body. Taking care to avoid any extra attention he notifies, Nurse Bess Crawford to follow him to the shed. When he shows her the extra body, she realizes who it is. Major Vincent Carlson, and the wounds on his body are neither from the war or from the illness. He has been murdered. When she attempts to contact Matron, the head nurse in charge of the facility, Bess herself finds she has succumbed to the Spanish Influenza as well and before she is able to tell anyone, she faints into a fever that may take her very life. Nurse Bess Crawford does recover but she begins to wonder if the body she discovered was a dream or did it really happen. All she knows is she needs to get better as soon as she can and begin to uncover what could be a murder, but how will she find the body of the Major in an unmarked grave? I received An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd compliments of TLC Book Tours and William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. After reading previous novels by Charles Todd a year ago, I feel in love with his unique ability to draw the reader into his book immediately. This is my third book from him and my second in the Bess Crawford mystery series. I love having a woman character like Bess who represents a vulnerability in her character while matching wits much like Sherlock Holmes. Add to that element a bit of history and you have the blending of a perfect suspense mystery. So it's easy to see why I would rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars. I can't wait to read more from him in the future and once again, this novel has found a forever home in my personal library.
llh0803 More than 1 year ago
Out of all the Bess Crawford books this one is in the top two for me. The character development for Bess in this book was wonderful, and we got so much more of Simon which is always welcome. The mystery had so many twists, turns, and red herrings it kept me from putting the book down; however I did feel like the author perhaps wrote himself into an ending that didn't quite make sense. No book is perfect and this book has so many other great qualities that I can overlook the slight clumsiness in the solving of murders. Bess is such an intriguing character and I love her sense of duty to nursing.
SunnySJ More than 1 year ago
I enjoy the era around Word War I allowing my imagination to develop the background for Bess and Simon to investigate the crimes they stumble into.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Charles Todd's Bess Crawford is well worth reading. You will feel transported to 1918 and WWI.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
highly recommended. Have read 4 more books by her and loved them all. Her characters, plots and settings are wonderfully developed. I now have anew author to enjoy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A historical fiction that took place during World War I in France and London, which is not my usual time and place to read about, so a departure from my norm which was a welcome reprieve. A story that is part of a series that centers around a nurse who ends up in the middle of a murder mystery. I loved reading one of my favorite genres combined with the historical fiction aspect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With a combination of intelligence, spunk, bravery, and compassion, Beww Crawford is a wonderful character! I look forward to reading future books from the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bookmarkSC More than 1 year ago
I have not read a mystery in many years and have not read the author's other books. I have to tell you they are wonderful. I stayed up to the wee hours of the night. Read half of the book in one night. Enjoying every second. Hopefully I am not wrong for the rest of the book.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
The Bess Crawford series, in which this is the latest entry, takes place during World War I, with Bess serving as a nurse in France, but usually getting involved in all sorts of crimes, including murder. This time, deaths result not only as a result of the conflict, but the Spanish influenza epidemic and at least four murders, including that of a major who served with her father, the Colonel sahib, in India. Unfortunately, the major had no identification and was buried in an unmarked grave before Bess could supply his name. But first, she falls ill with the flu and is returned to England to recover. And it’s quite possible that Bess saw the murderer, placing her in jeopardy. The rest of the book finds Bess, after recovering from her illness, shuttling back to the front and then returning to England in search of the killer. Of course, there are the Colonel’s mysterious capabilities and super-human contacts within the British establishment which are never disclosed, as well as the abilities of his sergeant-major, Simon Brandon, which permeate the novel, as well as Bess always finding just the right help, be it a person, automobile or telephone, just in the nick of time to make the reader scratch his or her head. And too often, coincidences arise along the way. Nevertheless, as in previous books in the series, the battlefield descriptions, the medical efforts to save the wounded and the effects of the conflict on both military and civilians are excellent. Perhaps the plotting is over-developed, but that is typical of this mother-son writing team, which pays great attention to detail. Characters are well-drawn but the conclusion is sort of forced. Over all, though, the novel reads well, and is recommended.
FrancesNC More than 1 year ago
Many good features but ultimately unsatisfying In An Unmarked Grave, Bess Crawford (a preternaturally accomplished nurse), her father (the Colonel Sahib), Simon Brandon (the faithful more-than-servant-but-less-than-family), and a dashing American (wounded on the field of battle and smitten by Bess' charms) fight to identify and bring to justice a shadowy figure who is killing a series of interconnected British figures on a French battlefield in the last year of World War I. The situation is gripping, the complications ingenious, the characters engaging, and the denouement a total letdown. Implausibility pervades much of the book; inquiring minds want to know how Bess obtained the seemingly unlimited supply of petrol she uses in driving around northern France, southern and western England and even Wales. Enjoy the book for the people you're spending time with, but don't look for rigorous plotting.
hbmari More than 1 year ago
The Bess Crawford Series is addictive. Good characters, good plot with twists and surprises.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all the Ian Rutledge novels and all of the Bess Crawfords. I love Bess as a character and I enjoy the WWI history and the British military culture that give these books their flavor. In An Unmarked Grave, however, I thought the plot was weak and rather frantic. I wish the Todds would take more time developing the story rather than rushing to publish each June.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MariaD1 More than 1 year ago
A Must Read for Fans of Downton Abbey I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review. I rated it 4.5 out of 5 Stars. Set amidst the backdrop of World War I and the Spanish Influenza, a British nurse in France finds herself in danger as she investigates a suspicious death she is sure is in fact a murder. A historical mystery or thriller, An Unmarked Grave, the fourth book in the Bess Crawford Mystery series by Charles Todd, captured my attention from the first page and never let go. Well developed characters, historical accuracy and plenty of action brought World War I and the conditions in France to life for me in a way no textbook ever could. The only child of a British Colonel and his wife, Elizabeth "Bess" Crawford has dedicated her life to serving wounded soldiers during World War I. While lonely for her family, Bess's skill and training help her as the Spanish influenza has decimated both the troops and the medical community serving them. When a trusted orderly brings her what he suspects is a case of foul play rather than death by illness, Bess intends to investigate. Instead, falling victim to the influenza herself, Bess soon finds herself back in England recovered and having to convince her parents, and a possible love interest, that she's healthy and ready to return to duty.  As Bess works at convincing others to let her return to what she considers her rightful duty, she discovers the trusted orderly has died under what she considers suspicious circumstances. More determined than ever, Bess manages to get reassigned to duty and France, swears to her friends to stay safe, and vows to get to the truth. I really enjoyed how the author introduced the numerous characters in this story and how they developed Bess' character. A strong and intelligent woman by nature, she's not above asking for help when she needs it. When her life is placed in danger, her resiliency and determination for justice to win is commendable.  Will Bess be able to solve two murders before she becomes a victim herself? I encourage you to read An Unmarked Grave to find out. While the fourth book in the series, I was able to read this book on its own without difficulty and look forward to reading the previous books in the series. This may have been my first reading of a Charles Todd book but it certainly won't be the last! And if you're a fan of Downton Abbey - this is a series you won't want to miss.
connie37 More than 1 year ago
Boring. Read other books in this series, but will not read future books. The story line is really rather ridiculous. Bess gets in and out of situations that really don't make sense. Too many books out to waste my time. The Ian Rutledge much better reading.