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A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mysteryby Charles Todd
Synopses & Reviews
From the brilliantly imaginative New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd comes an unforgettable new character in an exceptional new series
England, 1916. Independent-minded Bess Crawford's upbringing is far different from that of the usual upper-middle-class British gentlewoman. Growing up in India, she learned the importance of responsibility, honor, and duty from her offi-cer father. At the outbreak of World War I, she followed in his footsteps and volunteered for the nursing corps, serving from the battlefields of France to the doomed hospital ship Britannic.
On one voyage, Bess grows fond of the young, gravely wounded Lieutenant Arthur Graham. Something rests heavily on his conscience, and to give him a little peace as he dies, she promises to deliver a message to his brother. It is some months before she can carry out this duty, and when she's next in England, she herself is recovering from a wound.
When Bess arrives at the Graham house in Kent, Jonathan Graham listens to his brother's last wishes with surprising indifference. Neither his mother nor his brother Timothy seems to think it has any significance. Unsettled by this, Bess is about to take her leave when sudden tragedy envelops her. She quickly discovers that fulfilling this duty to the dead has thrust her into a maelstrom of intrigue and murder that will endanger her own life and test her courage as not even war has.
"The winning first in a new WWI series from the bestselling mother-son Todds (A Matter of Justice and 10 other Inspector Rutledge mysteries) introduces Bess Crawford, a resourceful British army nurse who's injured when her ship is sunk in 1916. While convalescing in England, Bess is tormented because she's put off delivering a message from Arthur Graham, a dying soldier under her care for whom she'd developed strong feelings, to his family. Her own brush with death prompts her to travel to Kent and transmit Arthur's cryptic last words to one of his three brothers. Bess becomes further enmeshed in the family's affairs after she learns the obscure message may relate to Graham's half-brother, Peregrine, who was committed to a local asylum for a girl's murder years before. The more Bess seeks to sate her curiosity, the more she suspects that the truth about the murder was suppressed. Fans of independent women sleuths like Maisie Dobbs will welcome this new addition to their ranks. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The daughter of a distinguished soldier‚ Bess Crawford follows in his footsteps and signs up to go overseas as a nurse during the Great War‚ helping to deal with the many wounded. There‚ serving on a hospital ship‚ she makes a promise to a dying young lieutenant to take a message to his brother‚ Jonathan Graham: "Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother′s sake. But it has to be set right." Later‚ when her ship is sunk by a mine and she′s sidelined by a broken arm‚ Bess returns home to England‚ determined to fulfill her promise.
It′s not so easy‚ however. She travels to the village in Kent where the Grahams live and passes on to Jonathan his brother′s plea. Oddly‚ neither Jonathan‚ his mother‚ nor his younger brother admit to knowing what the message means. Then Bess learns that there′s another brother‚ incarcerated in a lunatic asylum since the age of 14 when he was accused of brutally murdering a housemaid.
Bess rightly guesses that the dying soldier′s last words had something to do with the fourth brother. Because the family seems unwilling to do anything‚ she decides that she will investigate. It′s her own duty to the dead.
About the Author
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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