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A Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford Mysteries) Hardcover – 30 Aug 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company; 1 edition (30 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062015702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062015709
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 918,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 7 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: A cold rain had followed me from France to England, and an even colder wind greeted me as we pulled into the railway station in London.

Returning from the battlefields of France to England for Christmas leave, WWI nurse Bess Crawford encounters a desperate woman, rain-drenched and bruised in her building's entry. Offering her shelter, Bess slowly learns the woman, Lydia Ellis, had been struck by her husband during an argument. Lydia begs Bess to return to the family's house in Sussex with her and, fearing Lydia may have a concussion. Bess agrees, entering a home filled with tension and, ultimately, murder with Bess being an initial suspect.

The mother and son team of Charles Todd write some of the most evocative descriptions creating a wonderfully strong sense of time and place. The alternating settings of London, and English country house and the stark reality, cruelty and death of war are deftly handled. Even more, they deal with the front and the wounded in a manner which is strongly impactful, yet not overly graphic.

The dialogue is so well done; it is atmospheric..."The forest is--I don't know--not haunted, but most certainly, it broods." with a well-placed sense of irony and occasional wry humor. The language doesn't work hard at reflecting the period, but the sense of it is still there, particularly with the use of the old collective noun "a crocodile of children."

Bess is a character who has grown on me with each successive book. She is a dedicated nurse, but the authors have restrained her from coming across as prissy. The relationship with Simon, her father's ex-Sergeant Major and now assistant, is one handled with proper decorum and appropriateness to the period, but one rather hopes to see grow as the series progresses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Lacroix on 15 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the third Bess Crawford mystery I've read and it's the one I least enjoyed. But let me qualify what I've just written. It still took me just over 24 hours to read it, I still found it difficult to put it down and compared to other books I have read I would still rank it higher in terms of interest and appeal. It by no means fails I just found it slightly less absorbing than the two others I've read so far. As always the exposition scenes are excellent and capture your interest right away. Maybe following on 'Duty to the Dead' and finding Bess once again among a family in mourning I found it less original than ' an unmarked grave' which was also the first book of the series I came upon. Not taking to the character of Lydia might also explain why I found this one less compelling. Lydia is impeccably drawn but as her character develops and as we realise how selfish, manipulative and uncaring for Bess's wishes she is, it gets more difficult to feel any sort of compassion for her and one is left to wonder why Bess should do so much as it is obvious that she sees through her rather quickly once both the young women find themselves at Vixen Hill. I also found the identity theft story at the end rather contrived and as usual found the ending rushed and implausible. I have found it so in all the books by the Todd team I have read and once again when comparing the quality of the beginnings to the hurried and often rather unsatisfactory endings it is as though each one had either the end or the beginning to write. I doubt that the mother and son team do it this way but however they choose to write it would be good if the same care could be given to the concluding part of the stories as is given to the opening chapters. I do realise that once you have been hooked you won't give up reading twenty pages before reaching the end but I still think that some effort should be made so that the reader ends up fully satisfied and eager for more.
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By J. Lesley TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 31 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This third book in the Bess Crawford mystery series by Charles Todd is, in my opinion, the best one yet. The novels have all been good, but this one was exceptional for me. The tension is strung so tightly it fairly quivers. The action travels very naturally between the position Bess has as a nursing sister working in France and the English countryside of 1917. The mystery is completely confusing because it doesn't seem that any of the evidence makes sense which is very good for me because it keeps me from solving the mystery. I like it when the author makes me work to try to figure out who the guilty party is. These characters are a very interesting blend of attitudes which sway in the wind and change with each blow that befalls the Ellis family.

Even if you have never read any of the previous books in this series you can be assured that starting here will not present any problem whatsoever. The history of Elizabeth (Bess) Crawford is told so smoothly and clearly that readers new to the series will instantly feel they know all about Bess and her family.

Bess discovers an obviously emotionally traumatized woman trying to shelter in the doorway of her flat when she arrives home to London for her Christmas leave. The woman refuses to give Bess any information about who she is or where she lives, but it is either accept the hospitality Bess offers or freeze to death in the cold and rain. Thus begins the unfolding of the story "Lydia" has to tell. Before it is completed there will be murder done and family secrets exposed. None of the family will ever be the same after this.

I highly recommend this novel and can even say that, unlike most series, it doesn't matter if you have not read any of the other previous books. For me this novel was exceptional from beginning to end.
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