A Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford Series #3) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Trying to help a woman in distress, World War I
nurse and accidental sleuth Bess Crawford learns that no good deed goes unpunished



When battlefield nurse Bess Crawford returns from France for a well-earned Christmas leave, she finds a bruised and shivering woman huddled in the doorway of her London residence. The woman has nowhere to turn, and propelled by a firm sense of duty, Bess takes her in.



Once ...

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A Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford Series #3)

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Overview


Trying to help a woman in distress, World War I
nurse and accidental sleuth Bess Crawford learns that no good deed goes unpunished



When battlefield nurse Bess Crawford returns from France for a well-earned Christmas leave, she finds a bruised and shivering woman huddled in the doorway of her London residence. The woman has nowhere to turn, and propelled by a firm sense of duty, Bess takes her in.



Once inside Bess’s flat, the woman reveals that a quarrel with her husband erupted into violence, yet she wants to return home—if Bess will go with her to Sussex. Realizing that the woman is suffering from a concussion, Bess gives up a few precious days of leave to travel with her. But she soon discovers that this is a good deed with unforeseeable consequences.



What Bess finds at Vixen Hill is a house of mourning. The woman’s family has gathered for a memorial service for the elder son, who died of war wounds. Her husband, home on compassionate leave, is tense, tormented by jealousy and his own guilty conscience.



Then, when a troubled houseguest is found dead, Bess herself becomes a prime suspect in the case. This murder will lead her to a dangerous quest in war-torn France, an unexpected ally, and a startling revelation that puts her in jeopardy before a vicious killer can be exposed.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the outset of Todd's outstanding third Bess Crawford mystery (after 2010's An Impartial Witness), Bess returns to London in December 1917 on leave from her nursing work in France to find an attractive, well-bred woman of about 25 huddled in the doorway of her lodging house. The tearful woman, who reluctantly gives her name as Lydia, accepts Bess's invitation to come inside. Lydia later reveals that she's fled to London from Sussex after her husband struck her in the face. The tenderhearted Bess agrees to accompany Lydia back home so she can provide moral support. On arrival in Sussex, Bess finds herself in the midst of a family devastated by untimely death and hiding poisonous secrets. When a murder occurs, the local police suspect Bess is involved. The Todds (a mother-son writing team) plausibly insert their heroine yet again into a criminal investigation, besides providing their usual depth of characterization. (Sept.)
New York Times Book Review on A Bitter Truth
“Makes fine work of the brooding atmosphere.”
Booklist on A Bitter Truth
“Bess is a very strong series lead, the historical setting is as well developed here as it is in the Rutledge books, and the mysteries are just as elegantly constructed. Readers who have yet to sample the Crawford series should be strongly encouraged to do so.”
Associated Press on A Bitter Truth
“A thoughtful mystery with an excellent plot, well-drawn characters and wonderful atmosphere.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch on A Bitter Truth
“A well-envisaged plot, a deep sense of time and place and characters drawn with care and compassion.”
New York Journal of Books on A Bitter Truth
“Charles Todd has developed believable characters that carry along this story with lightning speed from the first page to the last.”
Wilmington Star-News on A Bitter Truth
“The Todds excel at complex characterizations....For lovers of upper-drawer British whodunnits and Anglophiles in general, A Bitter Truth should prove a sweet treat indeed.”
Charlotte Observer on A Bitter Truth
“A lovely picture of a slower world.”
Indianapolis Star on A Bitter Truth
“A thoughtful mystery with an excellent plot, well-drawn characters and wonderful atmosphere.”
Deseret News on A Bitter Truth
“Combines believable characters, gut-wrenching suspense and a sobering commentary on the ravages of war.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“A superb whodunit—just when you think you have it figured out, Todd throws a curve—and a moving evocation of a world at war.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A book rich in atmosphere and dense with plot.”
Washington Times
“Bess Crawford is a strong and likable character.”
Booklist
“A smartly plotted, well-told mystery.”
Washington Times on An Impartial Witness
“Bess Crawford is a strong and likable character.”
Associated Press Staff
“A thoughtful mystery with an excellent plot, well-drawn characters and wonderful atmosphere.”
Wilmington Star-News
“The Todds excel at complex characterizations....For lovers of upper-drawer British whodunnits and Anglophiles in general, A Bitter Truth should prove a sweet treat indeed.”
New York Journal of Books
“Charles Todd has developed believable characters that carry along this story with lightning speed from the first page to the last.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness
“A book rich in atmosphere and dense with plot.”
Booklist on An Impartial Witness
“A smartly plotted, well-told mystery.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness
“A superb whodunit—just when you think you have it figured out, Todd throws a curve—and a moving evocation of a world at war.”
Associated Press on A Bitter Truth
“A thoughtful mystery with an excellent plot, well-drawn characters and wonderful atmosphere.”
New York Journal of Books on A Bitter Truth
“Charles Todd has developed believable characters that carry along this story with lightning speed from the first page to the last.”
Indianapolis Star on A Bitter Truth
“A thoughtful mystery with an excellent plot, well-drawn characters and wonderful atmosphere.”
Booklist on A Bitter Truth
“Bess is a very strong series lead, the historical setting is as well developed here as it is in the Rutledge books, and the mysteries are just as elegantly constructed. Readers who have yet to sample the Crawford series should be strongly encouraged to do so.”
Charlotte Observer on A Bitter Truth
“A lovely picture of a slower world.”
New York Times Book Review on A Bitter Truth
“Makes fine work of the brooding atmosphere.”
Deseret News on A Bitter Truth
“Combines believable characters, gut-wrenching suspense and a sobering commentary on the ravages of war.”
Wilmington Star-News on A Bitter Truth
“The Todds excel at complex characterizations....For lovers of upper-drawer British whodunnits and Anglophiles in general, A Bitter Truth should prove a sweet treat indeed.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch on A Bitter Truth
“A well-envisaged plot, a deep sense of time and place and characters drawn with care and compassion.”
Tulsa World Scene
“Find some cures for the post-Downton Abbey blues ... Charles Todd has been producing a series of highly praised detective novels set in the years immediately after World War I.”
Stephanie Laurens
“Highly recommended—well-rounded, believable characters, a multi-layered plot solidly based on human nature, all authentically set in the England of 1917, make A Bitter Truth an outstanding and riveting read.”
Library Journal
Truth can be a bitter pill to swallow. In Todd's third Bess Crawford mystery (after An Impartial Witness), Bess finds herself back in London, on leave from her nursing duties on the World War I battlefields of France. Upon arriving at her London lodging, she finds a battered woman named Lydia in her doorway taking shelter from the cold. Bess befriends Lydia, who begs to be accompanied back to her home in Sussex. During a memorial for Lydia's brother-in-law, Bess becomes embroiled in the family's disagreements and secrets. When one of the houseguests, a wounded soldier, is found murdered, the police cast their suspicion on everyone—including Bess herself. She must search from Sussex all the way to war-torn France to discover the bitter truth about a soldier's death not on the battlefield but on the home front. VERDICT Todd brings World War I England and France to life with an intriguing plot and an intrepid sleuth. Recommended for all British wartime mystery aficionados who like plucky investigators similar to Maisie Dobbs.—Susan O. Moritz, Montgomery Cty. P.L.s, MD
Kirkus Reviews

Sister Crawford spends an eventful Christmas 1917 on leave from the battlefield.

Just back from France and planning to stay overnight in a London boarding house before traveling to her family in Somerset, Bess Crawford finds a young woman huddled on her doorstep, wet, shivering and bruised. She brings her inside, and the next day Lydia Ellis admits that she's leaving her husband Roger, who struck her. If Bess will accompany her, she'll return to Vixen Hill in Sussex and face him again. Off they go, their arrival heralded by a thunderclap announcement by family friend George Hughes: While in France he saw a young child identical to Roger's sister Juliana, who died as a tot. Surely Roger fathered her while serving in France. Roger's sister, mother and gran are distraught. The next day, George is dead, his murder followed by the disappearance, then death, of blind Davis Merrit, who may have killed him. But why? While family tension mounts, Bess, summoned back to France, promises Lydia to look for that child. With the assistance of an Aussie soldier, she finds young Sophie but leaves her in the care of nuns in Rouen. Bess returns to England, followed by the Aussie with Sophie in tow. There's another murder and much investigating by the constabulary before a plethora of confessions are presented, some admitting to current missteps, others to past mercy killings in the Ellis family, and a deserter is unmasked.

The least believable tale from the Todd partnership (An Impartial Witness,2010, etc.) finds Bess, Roger and the Aussie traipsing all over France and England and bumping into each other. Still, few writers surpass Todd in depicting the insanity of war.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062092595
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/30/2011
  • Series: Bess Crawford Series , #3
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 9,665
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Ian Rutledge mysteries, two 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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2012

    #3 in Bess Crawford Series a delight

    I love this series of book. Set in WWI, Bess is a battlefront nurse and she spends her time on leave solving mysteries! Three murders this time! These books are a lovely snapshot of the times with Bess giving us a glimpse of the horrors of war, a glimpse of the independent women to come and the fun of a female sleuth.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2012

    As she heads home, on leave from the ongoing First World War, ba

    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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A murder mystery set during WWI in London! A must read!

    Life is about to change for battlefield nurse, Betty Crawford on a dark and blustery night in London. When the police are searching for a deserter, Betty heads home to her flat alone. Yet on the stoop of her doorway is a woman, hiding and wearing a thin coat, trying to find temporary shelter from the storm. When Betty offers her a cup of tea and a respite from the weather for a few minutes, she sees that the woman's face bears a battered and bruise hand print along with endless tears down her face.

    Fearing the worst but don't wanting to frighten the poor woman, she learns that she is running from her husband, Roger Ellis. Not prone to violence against his wife, Bess learns that the woman's name is Lydia and offers her a place to stay. Lydia fears the worst could happen the longer she stays away and asks Betty to accompany her home to Vixen Hill.

    There Betty will meet the Ellis family of three generations of widows and meet the spirit of Julianna, who died a young girl and one whom the family can't seem to forget. Betty is talked into staying a few days to help care for Lydia and help her deal with issues involving her husband's jealousy. During her stay, the family is planning a memorial service to lay the headstone of one of the sons that was killed in the war. Only on the eve of the memorial service, one of the house guests George Hughes confides a deep family secret to Betty when neither of them can sleep. When the house awakens in the morning, George is soon discovered murdered and someone in the house is the prime suspect.

    I received the novel A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd compliments of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. It feels like a historical version of the game, Clue, as Bess Crawford attempts to solve the mystery surrounding the Ellis family secret and the murder of George Hughes. Set in London during the middle of World War 1, the mystery continues to grow as more and more people turn up missing or murdered as well. I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars and is perfect for you crime solving sleuth fans!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    an exhilarating multilayered mystery

    In 1917, battlefield nurse Sister Bess Crawford leaves the front in France to spend Christmas with her family in Somerset, England. Bess stops at a London boarding house for the night with plans to complete the journey home the next day. Instead she finds a battered, cold and wet woman curled in a fetus like position at her door. She brings twentyish Lydia Ellis inside.

    The next morning Lydia tells Bess she is leaving her abusive husband Roger for hitting her. Lydia persuades Bess to come with her to her home Vixen Hill in Sussex so she can confront her spouse. At Vixen Hill, family friend George Hughes swears he saw a child in France who looked like Juliana, Roger's late sister who died as an infant. Everyone including Roger's mother and grandmother assume he sired a child while he was on the continent. Someone murders George with the police suspecting Lydia. Bess returns to France looking for the child and soon with the help of an Aussie finds Sophie who she brings to Sussex as another homicide occurs.

    The latest Bess Crawford WWI amateur sleuth (see An Impartial Witness) is an exhilarating multilayered mystery. Kindhearted Bess cannot stop herself from helping someone in need, a trait readers will admire. France and England seem geographically small considering the state of transportation in 1917 and especially since nothing is quiet on the western front as Bess runs into others too frequently. Still Team Todd once again provides the audience, as he does with the Inspector Rutledge police procedurals, a tale that deeply condemns war.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2014

    Trite

    It takes an inordinate amount of belief suspension to get through these novels, particularly this one. The plotting is amateur at best . This is my last Bess Crawford novel. The are advertised as being akin to the Maisie Dobbs books, but in my opinion they cant hold a candle to Jacqueline Winspear s meticulous plotting!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    A Bitter Truth

    It was nice to find an old fashion good read amongst all the poo out there. Strong authors crafting an interesting story without dumbing down language or relying on sex to hold the reader's attention...refreshing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Twist of Fate

    This Bess Crawford mystery, set during World War I, finds her on a short leave from the front, intending to spend the Christmas holidays with her parents. When she arrives at her apartment in London, she finds a young woman huddled on her doorstep, cold, hungry and distraught. In sympathy, Bess takes her up to her room and learns that she has run away from her husband and home because he has abused her, and her disfigured face is proof.

    From this improbable beginning, Bess becomes involved in a family’s secrets and along the way in a few murders, since she accompanies the young woman back to her home and family. The novel rambles on, as the plot unfolds and the police fumble in an effort solve one murder after another. Bess returns to France, only to be recalled by the police for additional inquiries.

    There are some excellent aspects to the novel, including insights into the lives of upper crust Britons of the period. But it appeared to this reader that to bring the plot to a conclusion, the mother-son author duo reached out to contrive a solution that has little if any foundation. Nevertheless, the book is an enjoyable read and is recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2014

    Kept me guessing....

    It took me a while to get through this book, which is unusual. It could be that three novels with Bess Crawford is too much when read in sequence. Bess frustrates me with her total immersion in strangers' lives. But i love her tenacity and spunk. Once i was able to keep the cast of characters straight, it got easier. I do love a mystery where you dont see the ending coming and that is certainly the case here. Well-written as always.
    ?...wjj

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    READ

    All young scientists go to "science" result one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2014

    Bitter truth is this is another muddle mess

    Of ww i and author burn out and one unpleasant person and situation and am amused to see the very first review was as usual a five from our little cliff notes gal. borrowed and skipped scanned to last chapter. The reviewer who said the author seems to have a split persona is right what a difference between two series almost could be two authors

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2013

    Another winner

    Thank you team known as Charles Todd. I truly am enjoying this series and look forward to reading them all. An intelligent heroine with peek into the less delved into WWII era.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    definitely recommend

    I like the voice of Charles Todd. I think it's great that there is just a detective story and no unnecessary relationship stuff to hack through to get to the meat of the tale. Well done and I seem to always have a hard time figuring out who the culprit is.

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  • Posted August 30, 2013

    Highly recommend!

    I am a big fan of the Bess Crawford Series. She is such a noble
    and courageous nurse during the World War I
    I have read many of the series and will keep on reading them.
    Yea for Charles Todd!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2013

    A waste of time.

    This was an inept attempt at a British murder mystery. The authors have no idea how our friends across the pond think or speak. The murderer was pulled out of a hat in the last few pages. We knew virtually nothing about him until the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    I thought this book was focused more on the relationship of two

    I thought this book was focused more on the relationship of two people than it was on solving a murder.


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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    Another winner for CHARLES TODD

    This book is obviously intended to show us the fact that the first world war was just a harsh for those who were female as for the males. I like Bess Crawford very much because she doesn't feel sorry for herself.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    Love this series.

    Love this series.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Superb!

    Charles Todd once again creates a dramatic plot!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews

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