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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This Series Just Gets Better, Lucky Us
"An Unmarked Grave" is the fourth entry in the American mystery author Charles Todd's newish Bess Crawford crime novel series. The New York Times bestselling "Todd", actually a mother/son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd, are resident on the east coast of the United States, in Delaware and North Carolina respectively. Todd is also author of the Inspector Ian...
Published on 9 Jun 2012 by Stephanie De Pue

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3.0 out of 5 stars An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery
Gosh - it's taking me for ever to read this one - not necessarily the fault of the author who writes the story beautifully but it just hasn't captured my interest. It's not a page turner, but I'm glad I chose it and I will finish it!
Published 6 months ago by Mrs. Theresa McDougall


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This Series Just Gets Better, Lucky Us, 9 Jun 2012
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
"An Unmarked Grave" is the fourth entry in the American mystery author Charles Todd's newish Bess Crawford crime novel series. The New York Times bestselling "Todd", actually a mother/son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd, are resident on the east coast of the United States, in Delaware and North Carolina respectively. Todd is also author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge historical mysteries, and one standalone. All appear to be based in Great Britain, guess you could call them British mysteries. The Crawford series during World War I, the Rutledge series shortly afterward. UNMARKED, following on the heels of A Duty to the Dead, An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford) and AA Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford Mysteries), all of which I have read and reviewed at Amazon, is an exciting and suspenseful book that shows that some series can get better as they go on: lucky us; most,of course, don't.

Todd's protagonist Bess Crawford is a World War I field nurse and an amateur sleuth, daughter of a doughty India fighter, the Colonel Sahib, who has inherited his well-developed sense of duty. It is the spring of 1918; and the "Great War" is finally winding down with the entrance of the Americans, though few at the time realize it. But the Spanish influenza epidemic has struck, killing millions of soldiers and civilians around the globe: eventually it will actually kill more people than that terrible war.

Bess is at a front line field hospital in France. They're already overwhelmed by war injuries, but now they must cope with hundreds of flu patients too. Then Bess discovers the body of an officer who has clearly been murdered hidden among the dead awaiting burial. This man, Major William Carson, was never a patient at the hospital, but that doesn't mean Bess doesn't know him: the man served in her father's former regiment, was also a family friend. Unfortunately, before she can take any action, Bess falls very seriously ill with flu herself. By the time she recovers, Major Carson has been sent to an unmarked grave, never to be located again, and Private Wilson, who had found the body and notified her of it is dead, a purported suicide who hanged himself. Further deaths follow; it becomes clear that the unknown killer is stalking Bess too.

The book opens in a French field hospital, and that's where most of it is set, apart from the English scenes, some of which will remind readers of the popular Downton Abbey - Series 1 & 2 Box Set [DVD] series, when the great house is transformed into a convalescent home for officers. And I must admit that the Todds have outdone themselves here; they have given us very intense passionate scenes of wartime France and England that I doubted they could do. They have given us a large cast of characters, individualized enough that we can keep them straight. The writing, narrative, descriptive and dialog is fine. The plot is very quickly paced indeed, though the authors still rely too heavily on coincidence. The ending was a bit flat, a bit of a letdown, but appropriate.

Charles Todd came to speak several times at the local Wilmington, N.C.,library's mystery weekends. He's an attractive young man, intelligent and witty, and it looks like he's hitting his stride. I liked this book a lot. It's much better than the first, A DUTY; still you might want to start with the first to meet Bess, her family and friends fresh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rich in history and suspense, 11 Jun 2012
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
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It's such a pleasure to await the arrival of a new book and know without doubt that you're going to enjoy it. For this reader that's the case with the Bess Crawford series penned by Charles Todd (a mother and son writing team). After Duty to the Dead, An Impartial Witness and Bitter Truth the fourth in this series, An Unmarked Grave, follows the adventures of Bess Crawford, a strong, courageous World War I battlefield nurse who has a penchant for becoming involved in heinous crimes and eventually solving them.

This time out Bess faces her greatest challenge, actually challenges as it is the spring of 1918 on the French front where the Spanish Flu epidemic is killing all in its wake plus there is a consistent disheartening number of wounded soldiers who need attention. Working nearly to sheer exhaustion little does Bess know that a psychopath will soon be threatening not only her life but the life of one very dear to her.

Bone tired and feeling a bit dizzy as there was no time for supper Bess is asked by Private Wilson, head of the burial detail, to accompany him to the shed where the corpses are kept. He has found a body with no wounds save for a broken neck and does not know what to do. Bess immediately recognizes the deceased as Major Vincent Carson, a former member of her father's regiment. Carson was so highly regarded that it was thought he might take her father's place when the time came. Could Carson have been murdered and his body placed among those of the dead soldiers in order to cover up a killing? But before she can confide in her father Bess is stricken with influenza, an attack so severe that she becomes comatose. She's shipped back to Dorset to recover.

Following her recovery she returns to France along with a wounded Yank soldier, Capt. Thomas Barclay, to try to find out who might have wanted Carson dead. Yet, the case is not as clear-cut as it might seem because other deaths occur, including that of Private Wilson and Bess soon finds herself fighting for her very breath.

An Unmarked Grave is not only laden with suspenseful twists and turns that keep a reader guessing but historical fiction par excellence.

Enjoy!
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4.0 out of 5 stars still reccommended as an entertaining read but dont waste the little grey celks trying to work out the ..., 20 Oct 2014
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I have read almost all of the output of the Charles Todd family partnership and rate their works very highly. This is the first of their books i have reservations about.

It is as always very well written( apart from the use of the word "she" in the presence of the older woman to whom it refers - cat's mother and all that, just wouldn't be done, must email them), and an enjoyable journey. It just didnt have the depth that the Todd books usually have and the laws of detective fiction were torn up and flung to the four winds. The last few chapters wherein the solution was revealed could have come from a different book and one would have needed psychic powers to forsee the outcome.

Despite that, still reccommended as an entertaining read but dont waste the little grey celks trying to work out the answer.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery, 5 Jun 2014
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Mrs. Theresa McDougall "Theresa Madelaina" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Gosh - it's taking me for ever to read this one - not necessarily the fault of the author who writes the story beautifully but it just hasn't captured my interest. It's not a page turner, but I'm glad I chose it and I will finish it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting Read., 20 May 2014
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Ms. Da Sayed "wormauld" (surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries Book 4) (Kindle Edition)
This is the best Bess Crawford yet.Her character grows in each book.Also the work of the field hospitals is so well described.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fourth in the series and Bess Crawford just keeps getting better, 2 Aug 2013
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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By the time you've located this book you should already be aware of the mother-son team of Charles Todd so I will not describe it in this review.

We have the same Bess Crawford but a new mystery. As with previous books in the series even though the mystery is in-depth and full of misleading suspects or red herrings the excellent writing that gives you the feeling of the time is what really sells the book. You also find something comforting in the characters in the book even the negative ones all seem to have a higher human quality than you would find in real life.

Bodies are picked up on the battlefield and wrapped for disposal. Someone points out to Bess that there is one body too many and not properly wrapped. It made me think of "One Corpse Too Many" by Ellis Peters; however that's where the similarities end and the story takes on a life of its own. I also noticed that Bess Crawford has a tendency to be in the right place at the right time to hear the right thing. But if she wasn't there then we would not have story.

All I can say is that you will want to get a copy as soon as possible and not miss this great addition to your library.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd, 24 Jun 2013
By 
Carroty Nell "Nell" (Alaska, USA (summer) Manchester, England (winter)) - See all my reviews
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The concept of this series is excellent. Bess Crawford, English nurse working close to the Front during the Great War, turns detective. Among the many war-dead she finds the corpse of a Major known to her and her family who, it seems, has not died of battlefield wounds but has been murdered.

Yes, the concept is appealing and a great sales-pitch on the part of the author(s) and publisher.

'An Unmarked Grave', however, is a second-rate mystery. There are no great twists or surprises in the plot which you expect in a murder mystery. The protagonist and narrator, Bess, is, on the whole, a rather flat character and the writers have not developed her potential as much as they should have done. The prose is uninspired and there is little period or battlefield atmosphere. The best I can say about it is that it is easy to read and inoffensive.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent read., 4 April 2013
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Joyce Holmes "bookhound" (Lincoln.UK) - See all my reviews
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I think I have read all of 'Charles Todd's' books and have been intrigued by them. I do think I prefer the Bess Crawford series, even though they are sometimes uncomfortable to accept. I am very interested in the period just after WW1, my own father was a young man in the trenches from 1914 - 1918, remaining in the army for some years after. He married late in life and never spoke of his army years. The insight shown by the authors for their characters make their books more than a mystery these are in my view exceptional novels.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining, 24 Mar 2013
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H. Lacroix (France) - See all my reviews
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Here's a book that I started and finished in less than 48 hours. I was hooked right from the start and couldn't put it down. Bess Crawford is a nurse in France in the spring of 1918 and not only does she have to look after the wounded, she and the other sisters at the aid station where she is based, have to fight the Spanish influenza which is killing more and more patients. Exhausted and on the brink of collapse she is asked to come to the shed where the corpses are laid down. A little like in the famous brother Cadfael 'One corpse too many', Private Wilson, in charge of the disposing of dead bodies, has also found there is one corpse too many among his 'charges'. Bess recognizes the victim, a major Carson whose neck has been broken but she won't be able to do anything about solving this mystery as she is struck down by the influenza and soon fighting for her life. A few weeks later, when she is finally getting better she is told that private Wilson committed suicide on that same night and so, she is the only person alive to know that something terribly wrong happened and the only one who has seen the body. It is a very interesting premise and the rest of the book doesn't disappoint. I couldn't tear myself from the pages. I must say that the end is somewhat rushed and that there is a good amount that is simply implausible but in a way, I couldn't care less as I was so charmed and entertained by the whole that I was more than prepared to overlook these faults. I certainly shall be reading more of sister Crawford!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The audio was excellent, 3 Aug 2012
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I recently had a patron ask if I knew of a good historical mystery series for her. She was older, and said she liked stories set in the war years such as Charles Todd's Bess Crawford books. (which she highly recommended) Well, I did indeed have a series for her, but although I was familiar with Charles Todd's Inspector Rutledge series, I had never read one of the Bess Crawford books. Her recommendation resulted in me picking up the latest installment of this series - An Unmarked Grave.

Bess Crawford is a World War I nurse. 1918 finds her at the front lines in France, with war casualties and the Spanish influenza contributing equally to the dead waiting to be buried. But when an orderly points out a body to Bess that isn't wrapped right, she is shocked to find she recognizes the man from her father's regiment. It wasn't the flu or war that killed him - she suspects foul play. But exhausted and physically worn down, she falls prey to the flu herself before she can report what she thinks might be murder. Back in England she does advise her father of her suspicions. But the body is long buried. Did she imagine what she saw? Or is there a murderer in the ranks? Bess is determined to find the answer and wants to return to France.

Todd's writing brought this time period to life. The dialogue, social mores and expectations of the time were wonderfully depicted, creating a strong sense of atmosphere. Bess is such a great character - kind, dutiful, compassionate, strong, determined and intelligent. All of the characters were equally well drawn and just as engaging. I liked the idea of a woman being the sleuth in this time period, when men were the traditional 'leaders'. Bess is more than up to the task.

The plotting is good, slowly unravelling over time. This is a gentler mystery, meant to be savoured and enjoyed.

I choose to listen to A Unmarked Grave. The reader was Audie award winner Rosalyn Landor. She has a wonderfully rich, crisp British accent that perfectly suited the mental image I had of Bess. She portrayed all of the characters just as well. Most of the other characters were male and Landor came up with believable voices for them. Bess's father had a nice, gruff, regimental tone. The 'yank' soldier's voice was spot on as well. Her voice added much to the overall feel of the book, conveying emotion and setting easily. Listen to an excerpt of An Unmarked Grave. Or read an excerpt.

I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be picking up another in this series. Fans of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs character would enjoy this series. (This was my recommendation to my patron)
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