An Impartial Witness: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries) Paperback – 16 Aug 2011
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"Readers will enjoy Todd's plucky, determined sleuth and a thrilling mystery that proves murders on the home front don't stop just because there's a war."--Library Journal on An Impartial Witness
"A smartly plotted, well-told mystery."--Booklist on An Impartial Witness
"A book rich in atmosphere and dense with plot."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness
"Todd's excellent second mystery featuring British nurse Bess Crawford smoothly blends realistic characters with an intricate plot."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) on An Impartial Witness
"This second book in the Bess Crawford series places this mother-son duo at the top of their plotting game, with intricate twists and plenty of viable suspects. The meticulously realized period detailing is an intrinsic part of a story that is much more than a whodunit."--Romantic Times on An Impartial Witness
"Bess Crawford is a strong and likable character."--Washington Times on An Impartial Witness
"Remarkable."--New York Times Book Review on An Impartial Witness
"Finely plotted and full of meticulous period detail and deft characterizations, An Impartial Witness testifies to the lasting appeal of historical mystery fiction."--Strand magazine on An Impartial Witness
"Entertaining."--Mystery Scene on An Impartial Witness
"A superb whodunit--just when you think you have it figured out, Todd throws a curve--and a moving evocation of a world at war."--Richmond Times-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness
A superb whodunitjust when you think you have it figured out, Todd throws a curveand a moving evocation of a world at war. --Richmond Times-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness"
Remarkable. --New York Times Book Review on An Impartial Witness"
A book rich in atmosphere and dense with plot. --St. Louis Post-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness"
Bess Crawford is a strong and likable character. --Washington Times on An Impartial Witness"
Entertaining. --Mystery Scene on An Impartial Witness"
Todd s excellent second mystery featuring British nurse Bess Crawford smoothly blends realistic characters with an intricate plot. --Publishers Weekly (starred review) on An Impartial Witness"
A smartly plotted, well-told mystery. --Booklist on An Impartial Witness"
Readers will enjoy Todd s plucky, determined sleuth and a thrilling mystery that proves murders on the home front don t stop just because there s a war. --Library Journal on An Impartial Witness"
Finely plotted and full of meticulous period detail and deft characterizations, An Impartial Witness testifies to the lasting appeal of historical mystery fiction. --Strand magazine on An Impartial Witness"
This second book in the Bess Crawford series places this mother-son duo at the top of their plotting game, with intricate twists and plenty of viable suspects. The meticulously realized period detailing is an intrinsic part of a story that is much more than a whodunit. --Romantic Times on An Impartial Witness"
A superb whodunit just when you think you have it figured out, Todd throws a curve and a moving evocation of a world at war. --Richmond Times-Dispatch on An Impartial Witness"
From the Back Cover
In the early summer of 1917, Bess Crawford is charged with escorting a convoy of severely wounded soldiers from the trenches of France to England. Among them is a young pilot, burned beyond recognition, who carries a photograph of his wife pinned to his tunic. But later, in a crowded railway station, Bess sees the same woman bidding a heart-wrenching farewell to a departing officer, clearly not her husband.
Back on duty in France, Bess is shocked to discover the wife's photograph in a newspaper accompanying a plea from Scotland Yard for information about her murder, which took place on the very day Bess witnessed that anguished farewell. Granted leave to speak with the authorities, Bess very quickly finds herself entangled in a case of secrets and deadly betrayal in which another life hangs in the balance, and her search for the truth could expose her to far graver dangers than those she faces on the battlefield.See all Product description
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It's the early summer of 1917 and Bess Crawford is returning home from the trenches of France with a convoy of wounded men. One of the patient is Lt. Meriwether Evanson, a pilot who has been burned beyond recognition and he clings to life much thanks to his wife Marjorie whose picture he has pinned to his tunic. But Bess notices a woman on a London train station that is bidding farewell to an officer and she recognize the women. It's the pilots wife. But the man isn't her husband. She then discovers back on duty in France that the woman has been murdered and Scotland Yard is asking for information from anyone that saw her that day.
Bess informs the police about what she knows, but it's not enough information since she can describe the man the woman was with, but she doesn't know who he is and soon she starts her own inquiry to learn who killed Marjorie. But it's a frustrating case, and it seems that the killer may be getting away with murder and send an innocent man to the gallows.
I felt that this book was not as engrossing to read as the first book, still very good, but there were moments in the book when I felt that the pacing was a bit slow and I wanted the story to progress a little bit faster. Not that the story was bad, I mean there were several people in the book that could have been the murderer and it wasn't like I guessed right away who it was. I found the story picked up speed towards the end when a man that Bess had befriended was accused of murder and she had to fight to clear his name. Then, the story got more intense and I loved the ending.
I like Bess Crawford very much, she is a well written character and I like the fact that even though everyone in the book seem to think that she has more than friendly feelings towards the accused man she is trying to save is she just his friend. Not that I wouldn't mind her finding some happiness (I have read A Pattern of Lie, the perfect man is out there for her she just has to see it), but she isn't a woman that is easily swept of her feet. And, that is something I like.
Thankfully the book had a strong beginning and ending and, despite me feeling that the story dragged here and there in the middle was it a good book and I wasn't sure in the end it would end happily.
Bess Crawford is a battlefield British World War I nurse, whom we met, in A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery, aboard H.M.S. Britannic as it was being sunk by the Germans. The new series was, of course, immediately compared to Jacqueline Winspear's novels about Maisie Dobbs, intrepid battlefield World War I nurse, and Anne Perry's novels about Hester Latterly, one of the first nurses, who saw action in the Crimean War, with Florence Nightingale, the first non-camp follower nurse. However, I thought the attempt at an exciting opening set-piece didn't work, did not much care for "A Duty," and did not think it measured up to these other series. But "Impartial Witness" is a much better book.
It opens to find Bess tending soldiers in the trenches of France during the earlier days of World War I, before the entry of the United States into the war, when Britain fought Germany substantially alone. Bess, however, is sent back to England in summer 1917, with a convoy of seriously-injured patients. One, a young pilot with disfiguring burns, has held onto a photo of his wife in his long convalescence: Bess has noticed it many times, become familiar with the face. Patients once transferred to a clinic in Hampshire, reconfigured into a great house, Bess has two-day leave in which to go to ground in her London flat and rest up. However, she notices the pilot's wife in the train station, bidding a distraught goodbye to a soldier not her husband. Later, returned to France, Bess finds an old newspaper with a drawing of the pilot's wife on the front page: the pilot's wife has been brutally murdered, on the very day Bess saw her, stabbed twice, and thrown into the Thames River alive, to drown. Scotland Yard are appealing for information from anyone who has seen her. Bess gets leave to report to Scotland Yard, tell them what she knows. And she is, of course, on her own dangerous hunt for the killer.
The hunt will bring her into contact with some seriously dysfunctional families. It will also give "Todd" a chance to show off some excellent research: I found wartime England very well-drawn, as was the French battlefield, and the British military. This book is, in fact, well-written; dialog, narrative and description are nicely-done. It opened fast, and got to the first body gratifyingly fast, though be encouraged, if blood and gore isn't your thing, the violence all takes place offstage. The plot was certainly complex enough. I liked the conclusion emotionally, but wasn't entirely happy with its presentation. "Todd" has tried again for a television-style set piece there, and it appears that such "grand opera" writing really isn't in his/her skill set. But plenty of things are.
I've seen Charles Todd, the son, a few times at the local library's mystery weekends. He's a pleasant, intelligent, handsome and charming young man who speaks well. We've every reason to wish him well in this new series.
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