An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford Series #2)

( 61 )

Overview

In the early summer of 1917, Bess Crawford is charged with escorting a convoy of severely wounded soldiers from the trenches of France to England. Among them is a young pilot, burned beyond recognition, who carries a photograph of his wife pinned to his tunic. But later, in a crowded railway station, Bess sees the same woman bidding a heart-wrenching farewell to a departing officer, clearly not her husband.

Back on duty in France, Bess is shocked to discover the wife’s ...

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An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford Series #2)

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Overview

In the early summer of 1917, Bess Crawford is charged with escorting a convoy of severely wounded soldiers from the trenches of France to England. Among them is a young pilot, burned beyond recognition, who carries a photograph of his wife pinned to his tunic. But later, in a crowded railway station, Bess sees the same woman bidding a heart-wrenching farewell to a departing officer, clearly not her husband.

Back on duty in France, Bess is shocked to discover the wife’s photograph in a newspaper accompanying a plea from Scotland Yard for information about her murder, which took place on the very day Bess witnessed that anguished farewell. Granted leave to speak with the authorities, Bess very quickly finds herself entangled in a case of secrets and deadly betrayal in which another life hangs in the balance, and her search for the truth could expose her to far graver dangers than those she faces on the battlefield.

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Editorial Reviews

Mystery Scene on An Impartial Witness
“Entertaining.”
Romantic Times on An Impartial Witness
“This second book in the Bess Crawford series places this mother-son duo at the top of their plotting game, with intricate twists and plenty of viable suspects. The meticulously realized period detailing is an intrinsic part of a story that is much more than a whodunit.”
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.”
Strand magazine on An Impartial Witness
“Finely plotted and full of meticulous period detail and deft characterizations, An Impartial Witness testifies to the lasting appeal of historical mystery fiction.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness
“A book rich in atmosphere and dense with plot.”
Washington Times on An Impartial Witness
“Bess Crawford is a strong and likable character.”
New York Times Book Review on An Impartial Witness
“Remarkable.”
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.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness
“A book rich in atmosphere and dense with plot.”
Romantic Times on An Impartial Witness
“This second book in the Bess Crawford series places this mother-son duo at the top of their plotting game, with intricate twists and plenty of viable suspects. The meticulously realized period detailing is an intrinsic part of a story that is much more than a whodunit.”
New York Times Book Review on An Impartial Witness
“Remarkable.”
Booklist on An Impartial Witness
“A smartly plotted, well-told mystery.”
Washington Times on An Impartial Witness
“Bess Crawford is a strong and likable character.”
Strand magazine on An Impartial Witness
“Finely plotted and full of meticulous period detail and deft characterizations, An Impartial Witness testifies to the lasting appeal of historical mystery fiction.”
Mystery Scene on An Impartial Witness
“Entertaining.”
Publishers Weekly
Set in the summer of 1917, Todd's excellent second mystery featuring British nurse Bess Crawford (after 2009's A Duty to the Dead) smoothly blends realistic characters with an intricate plot. When Bess accompanies Lt. Meriwether Evanson, a severe burn victim, from the Continent to England, she's surprised to spot the pilot's supposedly devoted wife, Marjorie, crying on another man's shoulder at a train station. After returning to saving lives under German fire in France, Bess is stunned to read in a newspaper that Marjorie has been stabbed to death in London. Soon after, the depressed lieutenant commits suicide by cutting his own throat. Unable to resist involving herself in the murder investigation, Bess seeks to identify Marjorie's unknown companion, the possible killer. In addition to supplying a challenging puzzle, Todd (a mother-son writing team) does a superb job of capturing the feel of the battlefield and the emotional toll taken on those waiting back home for a loved one's return. (Sept.)
Library Journal
To help or not to help? That is the question. Todd's second Bess Crawford mystery (after a Duty to the Dead) opens as Bess arrives in London on approved leave from the battlefield of World War I France. At the train terminal Bess sees Marjorie Evanson, the wife of one of her severely burned patients, sobbing while clutching the arm of an officer who is not her husband. Weeks later Bess reads an advertisement asking for witnesses with information to the murder of Marjorie, which occurred shortly after Bess's sighting. Bess comes forward and begins her own investigation. She discovers that Marjorie led a secret life while her husband was away on the front lines and that someone was desperate enough to kill in order to protect it.Verdict Readers will enjoy Todd's plucky, determined sleuth and a thrilling mystery that proves murders on the home front don't stop just because there's a war. Recommended for historical mystery enthusiasts who like intrepid heroine investigators similar to Maisie Dobbs.—Susan O. Moritz, Montgomery Cty. P.L., MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061791796
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/16/2011
  • Series: Bess Crawford Series , #2
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 204,308
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 61 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(19)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    1917 life in France and England makes for a vivid and engaging historical mystery.

    In 1917, British nurse Bess Crawford escorts several severely injured soldiers from the trenches of France back to England. One of her patients, severely burned pilot Lieutenant Meriwether Evanson is unrecognizable as he barely clings to his life; his seemingly only reason to live is the photo of his beloved wife pinned to his garb. Thus she is taken aback at the London train station to see that woman from the picture crying on the shoulder of a man who is not Meriwether.

    After another deployment in France, Bess is shocked to read in the paper that someone murdered Meriwether's wife by brutally stabbing Marjorie. Already despondent and in excruciating pain, Evanson learns of his beloved spouse's murder and commits suicide. Bess feels a tie to the late pilot so she makes inquiries into whom that officer Marjorie was with when she was weeping at the station and whether that person is her killer.

    Readers will be fascinated with the second Bess Crawford WWI amateur sleuth tale (see A Duty to the Dead) that deals with the impact of the war in the trenches of France and on the home front. The mystery is fun to follow but Bess' motives for her investigation seems weak at best and what she does as a nurse makes it seem impossible to add a murder inquiry onto her already traumatic job. 1917 life in France and England makes for a vivid and engaging historical mystery.

    Harriet Klausner

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2010

    An interesting snapshot of the time

    "Early Summer, 1917

    "The burn victim, swathed in bandages.was frightful to see, his skin still raw and weeping, his eyes his only recognizable feature. I knew and he knew that in spite of all his doctors could do, it would never be enough. The face he'd once had was gone, and in its place would be something that frightened children and made women flinch..he had a framed photograph of his wife pinned to his tunic, and it was what kept him alive, not our care."

    Bess Crawford has just escorted more of the wounded and maimed to England from the battlefields of France. She has a few hours in London before having to return to the battle field hospital and all she wants is to sleep. As she walks through the train station, she notices a woman crying inconsolably, a man in uniform standing near her but not comforting her. As Bess walks by, the woman lifts her head and Bess knows, without question that the woman is the wife of Lieutenant Meriwether Evanson, the burn victim. She has seen that picture too often not to be certain of the woman's identity. Bess watches the man board the train without a backward glance. The woman, still crying, hurries from the station. Bess tries to follow her but she disappears into the crowd.

    Back in France, Bess sees a pen-and-ink drawing of a woman with the caption, "Police Ask for Witnesses - Evanson Murder Still Unsolved." Bess sends a letter to Scotland Yard and is most surprised to be sent back to England for an interview with Inspector Herbert. She might not have seen much but she is the only person to have come forward with any information. Before she returns to France, she decides to visit Lieutenant Evanson; when she arrives at the hospital, she is told that the lieutenant had killed himself six days earlier. He had been despondent since learning of his wife's murder.

    Bess returns to France and seems to be granted an inordinate amount of leave for a nurse working on the front lines of battle. This allows her to visit many people, new friends and old, so she can find the man with the Wiltshire Regiment badge, whose face she didn't see clearly, at the train station with Marjorie Evanson just before she was killed.

    The body count rises as more deaths of young officers recuperating near London are reported. Then another woman is attacked in the same manner as Majorie Evanson. Who knew both women well enough to want them dead?

    I enjoyed this book more than the first Bess Crawford, A DUTY TO THE DEAD. AN IMPARTIAL WITNESS could have had the length shortened a good bit if the authors eliminated some of the characters who make very brief appearances. The authors people the story with army officers but, for most, they give so little detail that it is difficult to find a personality that would make them memorable or help separate one from another.

    I look forward to other books in the series.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    Excellent historical mystery

    Set during WWI, this mystery draws you into a turbulent time and place. The main character, an English nursing sister, provides an interesting perspective.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2011

    A great read!

    One of the best mysteries I have read all year! It starts out a little slow, but once you get into the story, its hard to put down. I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful English type mystery!

    Really interesting story that keeps your attention. I was sad when I had to put it down to do necessary stuff. I'd rather be reading this book! It gives a good look at some aspects of World War I. We don't think about that much in this day and age! Highly recommended if you like a slower paced Who Done It, rather than very fast, blood and guts type of murder mystery. I have gone on to read many more books by this author.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    Charles Todd gets you right into the middle of the reality of WW

    Charles Todd gets you right into the middle of the reality of WWI. You go from the genteel drawing rooms of England to the horrors (but not unduly graphically) of the war in France.
    A chance sighting at the railroad station makes Bess "an impartial witness", but what comes after begins to strain her impartiality.
    These are really well developed books. The characters and the locations are fully "fleshed" out.
    A very good read.

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  • Posted November 1, 2013

    I almost didn't buy this after...

    ...being disappointed by the first book in the series. However, I'm so glad I did! It grabbed me on the first page and kept me intereted right to the end. In fact, when I was forced to put the book down, it was difficult to mentally leave it aside and come back to reality. Do read it! You won't be sorry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013

    Good read

    Enjoy Bess Crawford and this series in general.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Good read

    A little slow in parts but generally works very well. Sets the scene of WWI in a way that really takes you back to the time.

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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

    Good story.

    This is a slower paced book, however, I really did enjoy it. I plan to read other books by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Having read the first book in the Bess Crawford series, I was ea

    Having read the first book in the Bess Crawford series, I was eager to continue with the series. I was very pleased with this one. It was accurate in details of the period of WWI and hard to put down. Now I'm looking forward to reading the next ones.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Highly recommended

    Set in war-torn London during the second WW, the authors of "Impartial Witness" weave an intriqueing tale filled with interesting characters. A most pleasant read.

    Nancy L

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    enjoyable read

    The story was a bit 'disjointed'. But was impelling in leading one to keep reading. It drew me because my mother lived and worked in England at that time. She suffered thru the bombings and uncertainty from day to day. It was surprizing to find that someone, like this nurse, could be so determined to become so deeply involved in following thru to find the real murderer of someone she did not know. It speaks of a need to find some justice in a shattered world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    Great mystery

    Keeps you guessing ajj through to the end

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  • Posted September 8, 2012

    After the sixth or seventh completely improbable plot twist by t

    After the sixth or seventh completely improbable plot twist by the middle of this book I gave up on it.
    Reading in this genre requires a certain amount of disbelief suspension, but these folks (the author and his mother evidently collaborate in writing these things) far exceeded my ability to believe the contrivances in the plot.
    The writing itself is competent, and WW1 England is an interesting setting for a mystery, but this one just didn't work for me. Glad I got it at the library and didn't pay for it.

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  • Posted May 24, 2012

    Highly reommend.

    Very good story line. Charles Tood's books will keep your interest and you will not know the ending when you read the first chapter.

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  • Posted September 19, 2011

    Nice, Easy to Read Mystery

    I really llike the Bess Crawford series with its twists and turns and interesting plots. However, I found myself thinking that Bess is quite a goody-two-shoes in this one. It would be nice for there to be a little insight into her love-life--the series so far has shown glimpses of men who might be interested in Bess, but there is no indication that she feels anything for any other character romantically. Just feels a little stilted when every other relationship in the novel is pretty well fleshed out.I'd still recommend the series--definitely a good read.

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

    loved it

    This author is one of the best. I have every book by this author. great insight into human nature. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews

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