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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introduction for a new series.
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...
Published on 9 Sep 2009 by J. Lesley

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars - One has a duty to the dead
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...
Published on 4 Jan 2010 by L. J. Roberts


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introduction for a new series., 9 Sep 2009
By 
J. Lesley "(Judy)" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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.

I told a friend today that I absolutely devoured this book and that is the best way for me to describe it. The descriptions of the settings aboard ship, during the rescue, and then in both London and Kent are first rate, making it very obvious that these authors spent time in both of those locations absorbing the atmosphere. The characters are all very well developed, from Bess right down to her landlady. The plotting and pacing of the book move along at a very steady, sure speed so that I was completely involved in the story almost before I realized it. And I sincerely resented anything which came between me and reading this book. Bess Crawford is well portrayed as a woman of 1916, a woman willing to take her place in society to do her very best to help along the war effort. She was a very enjoyable character for me to read about, using her intellect to reason her way through the problems she was facing, trying to make sense of events which had happened so many years before but which still effected so many lives. Bess is a very strong character but the authors have resisted the temptation to turn her into a "modern" woman. I can see that there are all sorts of possible stories in this character's future and I'm ready to be right there with her. A very well written, exciting book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move over Maisie Dobbs..., 12 Mar 2010
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
and make way for Elizabeth Crawford. Charles Todd - a mother/son writing team famous for their wonderful Ian Rutledge novels - have created a new character, Elizabeth (Bess) Crawford, a British nurse in WW1. The time frame of the Crawford novel is slightly earlier than that of the Rutledge novels. The Rutledge stories take place in the years after WW1, with some flashbacks to his time at war. Crawford is shown (at least so far) working during the war.

I'm not going to write a lot about the story, which is excellent, but rather about the writing. I've read most of Todd's Rutledge books and think the writing is absolutely first rate. That continues on to their second series of book. (I'm assuming the A Duty to the Dead is the first in a series and not a stand-alone novel).
There seems not to be a word out of place, a character introduced but not dealt with in the story, or any rambling. It's air-tight writing and editing. What I wonder about is if two writers, writing together, tend to edit each other's writing as they go along in their collaboration?

Todd's Bess Crawford compares favorably with Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs. Both are fully developed characters as defined - and refined - in their writers' words. Dobbs' London is post-WW1, moving into the 1930's. Both are well worth reading, as are Todd's earlier series, Ian Rutledge.

I'm looking forward to many more Bess Crawford novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars - One has a duty to the dead, 4 Jan 2010
By 
L. J. Roberts (Oakland, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Duty to the Dead (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. There were a few portent--a writing element I really dislike--and a characters who had been locked in an asylum since being a young boy was much to intelligent and street-smart to be quite believable.

I very much enjoyed Bess and hope to see ore of both her and her father, whom I very much liked. I look forward to more books in this series.

A DUTY TO THE DEAD (Hist Mys-Elizabeth (Bess) Crawford -England-WWI/1916)- G+
Todd, Charles - 1st in series
William Morrow, 2009, US Hardcover - ISBN: 9780061933844
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars COMPELLING, ATMOSPHERIC, SUSPENSEFUL, 20 Nov 2009
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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. A third brother, Peregrine, is at the heart of the mystery; he has been held in a mental asylum since the age of fourteen - a confinement that we learn was arranged by his mother. To compound matters there is the mysterious Robert, a cousin, who is omnipresent.

While a guest in the Graham's home Bess is confronted with numerous challenges, not the least of which is assisting the local doctor in caring for a shell shocked soldier. She learns the matrix of small village life - secrets kept, gossip rampant, an aversion to strangers.

A DUTY TO THE DEAD is an atmospheric rendering of wartime England, a sterling suspense tale and an unforgettable picture of the horrors of war.

- Gail Cooke
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read, 12 April 2013
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Another good read from Charles Todd, always able to take you back and put you into the story ***** Excellent
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!, 7 April 2013
By 
H. Lacroix (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Duty to the Dead (Paperback)
Once again the weakness of the Todd writing team seems to be that they are unable to write an ending that isn't somewhat frenzied and also implausible. The mystery, once revealed,leaves you nonplussed how to how on earth events would have turned this way. But however unsatisfactory this may seem, the rest is so good that I am becoming a fan. I read this one in twenty four hours as I just couldn't put it down. Bess Crawford 's hospital ship, Britannic, encounters a German mine in the mediterranean that nearly sends them all to a watery grave. Having suffered a broken arm during this episode she is convalescing in Britain and decides to finally fulfill a promise. A few weeks before, a young officer for whom she had come to feel more than she ought to, had, on his dying bed, made her promise to repeat a certain message to one of his brothers.She was to tell him that he had lied for his mother's sake but that he wished things to be set right. When she is received by the Graham family, no one seems to take the dying man's wishes seriously and they even seem to fail to understand what he may have meant. And yet, there is a half brother not five miles away in a lunatic asylum, who has been shut up in there for over 14 years. As a child he is supposed to have butchered a young woman and has been locked away ever since. What if he had had nothing to do with this crime? And this is where Bess will have to come into action and where the Todd writing team will have us on tenterhooks, reading page after page until all is revealed. Not perfect as I have written before but still very entertaining and to be highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, 5 Oct 2012
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I bought this book having read a number of the "Inspector Rutledge" series by this author. It is set in the period of WW1 and I thoroughly enjoyed it, perhaps because Bess Crawford the heroine comes over as a warm and believable charecter. I shall look forward to reading more in this series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, 29 Aug 2013
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This is an author I have just discovered and I absolutely love the setting - 1st World War - and the style of writing. A most engaging story and so realistic. I Shall be reading the others int his series.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just Doesn't Come Alive, 12 Jan 2010
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
A Duty to the Dead," by New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, presumably begins a new historical mystery series, starring Bess Crawford. So this will join Todd's popular, highly-thought of Inspector Ian Rutledge series, now at eleven books. (There is also one stand-alone.) Charles Todd sets "his" mysteries in Britain; "he" is, however, actually an American mother-son writing team. She lives in Delaware; he, in North Carolina.

It's 1916; independently minded Bess has been a nurse aboard the floating World War I hospital ship Britannic, sister ship to the famed Titanic of the watery North Atlantic end. She has agreed to verbally transmit a message from the dying, charming, Lieutenant Arthur Graham, for whom she feels more than she should, back to his upper-crust family back home in the U.K. The book is told in first person, from Bess's point of view, an interesting departure from the Rutledge books.

Unfortunately, this time out, the team's writing, while it does cover the appropriate ground, is flat, and they are unable to make their material come alive. They choose to open with a set piece, much as the infinitely greater British mystery author John LeCarre generally does: the well-known sinking of Britannic in Greek waters. However, LeCarre's set pieces can blow the socks off a reader, see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; whereas the Todd team just can't make Britannic's sinking particularly vivid, and that's quite a failing. Perhaps actual World War I combat is a bit much for the Todd duo to handle. The book also, oddly enough, in several regards, strongly echoes a better historical mystery by Anne Perry, (The Face of a Stranger (William Monk)).

The North Carolina-based son that's half of Charles Todd has twice spoken at Wilmington, NC, Library Mystery Weekends, and I've managed to catch him. He was intelligent, charming, entertaining, and quite presentable: I wish him better luck next outing.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Long winded and uninspiring, 4 Sep 2013
This review is from: A Duty to the Dead (Paperback)
For me, a dull and uninspiring book. As a period piece there is little to interest you and as a crime story, the investigation is so weak and the resolution so unconvincing and unpredictible. The author needed a good editor to tell him to tighten up the story and leave so many irrelevant and unnecessary red herrings. Not recommended at all
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A Duty to the Dead
A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd (Paperback - 22 Oct 2010)
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