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An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford) [Hardcover]

Charles Todd
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company (31 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061791784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061791789
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 15.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,222,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much Better Than the First in This Series 10 Oct 2010
By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
"An Impartial Witness," is second in the new Bess Crawford British mystery series by New York Times best selling author, Charles Todd. Todd is the author of twelve popular Ian Rutledge British mysteries, set in the United Kingdom after World War I, and one stand-alone novel. But Charles Todd, of course, is an American mother-son duo: she resident in Delaware; he--who is actually Charles Todd-- in North Carolina.

Bess Crawford is a battlefield British World War I nurse, whom we met, in A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery, aboard H.M.S. Britannic as it was being sunk by the Germans. The new series was, of course, immediately compared to Jacqueline Winspear's novels about Maisie Dobbs, intrepid battlefield World War I nurse, and Anne Perry's novels about Hester Latterly, one of the first nurses, who saw action in the Crimean War, with Florence Nightingale, the first non-camp follower nurse. However, I thought the attempt at an exciting opening set-piece didn't work, did not much care for "A Duty," and did not think it measured up to these other series. But "Impartial Witness" is a much better book.

It opens to find Bess tending soldiers in the trenches of France during the earlier days of World War I, before the entry of the United States into the war, when Britain fought Germany substantially alone. Bess, however, is sent back to England in summer 1917, with a convoy of seriously-injured patients. One, a young pilot with disfiguring burns, has held onto a photo of his wife in his long convalescence: Bess has noticed it many times, become familiar with the face.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bess is getting better with each book 8 Sep 2010
By L. J. Roberts TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
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
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bess Crawford 19 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I prefer Inspector Rutledge novels, but once you get into these stories they are good, the detail is as usual very good.
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