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Duty to the Dead Paperback – Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Harper Collins USA (Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061933848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061933844
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,620,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Lesley on 9 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
My first experience with the mother and son co-writing team known as Charles Todd came about when the Amazon Vine Program gave me the opportunity to read A Matter of Justice: An Inspector Rutledge Mystery back in December of 2008. I was well and truly hooked and have been buying and reading Inspector Rutledge mysteries ever since. When I saw that this book began a series with a new lead character I simply had to read it.

Bess Crawford is a British nurse aboard the hospital transport ship Britannic in 1916 when the ship hits a mine and sinks. Thankfully the ship was not carrying wounded on this portion of their journey or the loss of life would have been much higher. Bess sustains a broken arm made much more serious by assisting in the rescue of one of her fellow nurses. That, plus having to wait for some time to receive good medical treatment, made the break much more serious and therefore very slow to heal. Because she cannot return to duty quickly Bess decides that she can't put off any longer making good on the promise she had made on a previous voyage to Arthur Graham before he died. Arthur had requested that Bess personally deliver a message to one of his brothers at his home in the small village of Owlhurst in Kent. What follows is the story of Bess meeting Arthur's family and discovering that his half-brother has been locked away in an asylum because of a grisly murder he committed when he was 14 years old. The more people Bess meets the more unsure she becomes about exactly what Arthur Grahams message meant and whether his brother Jonathan intends to do anything about Arthur's request.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
First Sentence: At sea...the morning sun is lovely and warm.

Bess Crawford is an independent, upper-middle-call British gentlewoman who takes after her father. She became a nurse and travelled to the battlefields of France. On her way back to England aboard the Britannic, the ship strikes a mine and sinks. Bess suffers a badly broken arm but becomes fond of Lt. Arthur Graham who, right before dying, extracts a promise from her to deliver a message to his brother in England. Keeping that promise embroils her in a family surrounded by tragedy and secrets.

It is always interesting when an author you love begins a new series. Sometimes it works; sometimes not. In this case, it definitely worked.

Bess is a great new character. She is representative of many woman of her class; smart, independent; strong and with a belief that woman can be as capable as men. She has seen the results of war and knows the impact it has on the men who fight. It is also typical of the time that Bess is constantly asked whether she was in love with each young many of her acquaintance as people can't otherwise understand the courses of action she takes.

Todd provides a very strong sense of time and place with just a hint of a gothic feel. At the same time they make strong statements about the impact of war and the lack of understanding of those who stay at home. Their writing is very effective and can go straight to the emotions and the heart.

There were a couple small false steps. The story was a little slow getting started and Bess' reaction to the sinking of the ship seemed a bit too detached.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 20 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
The mother and son writing team known as Charles Todd has written 11 highly acclaimed Ian Rutledge mysteries, each recognized for scrupulous attention to historic detail, careful plotting, well developed characters, and riveting psychological suspense. The same is true of A DUTY TO THE DEAD in which Todd introduces a new series featuring Bess Crawford.

While Bess lived in 1916 she's more than a match for any contemporary mystery heroine. The daughter of a highly principled and equally highly disciplined officer she inherited these qualities in large doses. It is 1916 and Bess follows in her father's footsteps by serving as a nurse in the Great War. During training she is cautioned about becoming too fond of her patients. "They are yours to comfort, yours to heal, but not yours to dream about." Nonetheless, Arthur Graham found a special place in her heart, and she made a deathbed promise to him, a vow to take a brief, rather cryptic message to his brother, Jonathan.

However, it is some time before she can keep that promise as when our story opens she is aboard the ill-fated hospital ship Britannic. Todd's description of the explosion that rocks the ship and the ensuing sinking is intense, gripping. Bess suffers a broken arm but does manage to find a place in a lifeboat and is eventually sent to England for recoveryr. It is then that she goes to Arthur's home in Kent.

While at first she is welcomed warmly Bess is astute; she recognizes a sorely fragmented family. There is Arthur's widowed mother, a domineering matriarch. Jonathan is a lieutenant who has suffered a facial wound, another brother, Timothy, who was born with a clubfoot and appears bitter because he could not join the service.
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