First Sentence: As my train pulled into London, I looked out at the early summer rain and was glad to see the dreary day had followed me from Hampshire.
WWI battlefield nurse Bess Crawford cared for a badly burned young pilot who had a picture of his wife visibly displayed. In a train station traveling on leave back to London, Bess happens to see the wife who is clearly upset as she sees off a different soldier. Although somewhat perplexed by the scene, it is nothing to the shock Bess feels when a drawing of the woman appears in the next day's paper with Scotland Yard asking whether someone can identify her. Bess learns the woman had been murdered and shortly after, the burned husband commits suicide. Bess feels it is her responsible to find out what had happened.
This is the 2nd book in this new series by the Todd's and I much preferred it to the first book.
Their voice for Bess is much better and she's a stronger character. The sense of chaos and fatigue from being in combat is well conveyed, but with a sense of detachment I feel one would acquire after time. The contrast between the battlefield and being in London, particularly attending the house party, is very effective. I like that Bess doesn't jump to conclusions but gathers the evidence bit-by-bit and over time.
The plot was well constructed and the reason for Bess being involved was justifiable. Although I understood Beth's distance from the events, it did all feel a bit too distant as a reader; I was never emotionally connected to the story.
While I never considered not finishing the book, for me it wasn't a gripping straight-through read either. That said, Todd is an excellent writer and I always look forward to the next book.
AN IMPARTIAL WITNESS (Ama Sleu-Bess Crawford-England/France-1917/WWI) - G+
Todd, Charles - 2nd in series
HarperCollins, ©2010, ARC - Hardcover ISBN: 9780061791789