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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good series that gets even better with each book.
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...
Published on 7 Sep 2011 by L. J. Roberts

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good series that gets even better with each book., 7 Sep 2011
By 
L. J. Roberts (Oakland, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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. Lydia, the wife in trouble, is very well constructed as a character who is difficult to like, but one who elicits one's sympathy.

There were a couple weaknesses to the book. It did become tiresome that some of the characters were continuously referred to by their full names and, although I suppose necessary for the plot, I did have a problem with on significant decision made by Bess to not tell the police about a piece of evidence. Both of these are minor points, however, when weighed against the book's strengths.

"A Bitter Truth" is the best, so far, of the three books in the Bess Crawford series. How lucky are we readers to have two such good series from Charles Todd.

A BITTER TRUTH (Hist Mys-Bess Crawford-England/France-1917/WWI) - VG
Todd, Charles - 3rd in series
Wm. Morrow, 2011, Unc. Proof - HC ISBN:
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bess the best!, 6 Dec 2013
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This review is from: A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
I love Charles Todds books and this one did not disappoint.
The twists and turns were intriging, I suspected everyone!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Charles does it again!, 21 July 2013
This review is from: A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
Wonderful potrayal of nurse/sleuth
Bess Crawford solving crime in war torn Europe in pursuit of justice and succeeding against all odds.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I liked this one a little less... but I still read it in just over 24 hours..., 15 April 2013
By 
H. Lacroix (France) - See all my reviews
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 4 April 2013
By 
Joyce Holmes "bookhound" (Lincoln.UK) - See all my reviews
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Another cracking story, The psychological aspects are fascinating and the story moves along well. I do like Bess and her family ramifications make the whole thing an experience not to be missed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This third book is the best one yet., 31 Aug 2011
By 
J. Lesley "(Judy)" (United States) - See all my reviews
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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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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 14 Sep 2014
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This review is from: A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
no clear recollection
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She Seems to Find Trouble Wherever She Goes, 26 Aug 2011
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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"A Bitter Truth" is third in the new Bess Crawford series of British historical mysteries penned by the American-based mother/son team that calls itself Charles Todd -- the son's actual name, I believe. Like their other --previous series - featuring Inspector Ian Rutledge, it is set in the World War I United Kingdom, principally England.

Battlefield nurse Bess Crawford returns from the French front to spend Christmas with her family. But she finds a bruised and shivering gentlewoman huddling in the doorway of the building that houses the London flat Bess shares with several other nurses. It's a cold and windy wintry night, and Bess has a rather well-developed sense of duty, which she blames on being an Army brat, so she takes the woman, whose name she eventually discovers is Lydia, in. She will have reason to relearn the twist on that old adage, "no good deed goes unpunished."

Lydia eventually reveals that it was her officer husband Roger Ellis who beat her in an escalating quarrel; yet Lydia wants to go home, to the manor house Vixen Hill, in what she describes as the winter-dreary moors of Ashdown Forest, in Sussex. Bess is expected by her family in Somerset, but she realizes Lydia has had a concussion that is as yet untreated, so she agrees to accompany the young woman to Sussex, on the agreement that it will be for just a few days.

Of course, Bess, who seems to find trouble wherever she goes, finds trouble at Vixen Hill. The house is in mourning, deeply distressed by the death of the elder son Alan, of his war wounds. But its residents are also tense, on edge, and soon a troubled, wounded house guest is murdered. Things get even worse from there, or it wouldn't be a mystery.

A BITTER TRUTH, as An Impartial Witness: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries), which I have also read and reviewed, is much better than the first book in this series, A Duty to the Dead, which I have also read and reviewed in these pages.

"Todd" does extremely well at giving us the atmosphere of wartime England, and the social uproar caused by the war. The author(s) are excellent on England's landscape, wintry weather, cities and towns, residents and police, soldiers home on leave. Dialog and narrative are fine; the plot is complex in a satisfactory way. In fact, the plot is pulled together, organized excellently, in line with the rules that govern this kind of writing. And I did not see the villain coming; that might have been foreshadowed a little more. The warfront scenes are adequately done, but there is no question but that "Todd" cannot, as in the first two books of the series, render them with the intensity a reader might expect from the best wartime novelists. Furthermore, it seems a little odd, considering the formality that still governed the country then, that Bess should stay so long in the home of a family not her own, and should interact with them in the way that she does. Finally, frankly, I found the Ellis family a bit tedious. And claustrophobic.

"Todd" is the author of thirteen Rutledge mysteries and a stand-alone, in addition to this series. Mother lives in Delaware; son, in North Carolina. I've seen him several times at mystery weekends sponsored by the local library; he seems an intelligent, polite, and charming man. BITTER TRUTH is a well-done historical mystery that many readers might enjoy.
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