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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 January 2016
The year is 1918 and the Spanish flu epidemic is rampaging, killing both soldiers and civilians. Battlefield nurse Bess Crawford and the rest of the nurses and doctors are swamped with patients. But, then Bess discovers that among the dead bodies are the body of a murdered officer that used to serve in her father's former regiment. However she falls ill in the terrible flu herself before she can report it...

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The Bess Crawford series has quickly become a favorite of mine. One of the reason is that I find Bess Crawford to be a competent young woman that happens to stumble over problems now and then. Like this time where she must find out who killed an officer that she knew and respected. But, she has also just been terribly ill, the body of the dead man is buried and the only other witness to it has hanged himself. So, there isn't much to go on. But, she won't give up, and luckily she has Simon Brandon and Captain Barclay, a Yankee with a poor knee to help her.

This is the first book in this series that I just couldn't find myself really engrossed with. It could be because of the absence of my favorite Aussie, but I think that most of the problem lies in the fact that the case just doesn't draw me in. I don't say that the book was bad, it was just not memorable. I definitely felt that when I started to write the review and for a moment was at loss to why the man in the beginning was killed. The conclusion of the book was just not that thrilling.

Thankfully, Bess makes this book worth the while, she is still a strong and interesting character despite the rather lackluster storyline. There are those that favor a romantic relationship between her and Simon, but I just don't see it. For me, he is an older brother. Then again, this may because I have already in my mind a perfect candidate for her heart. And, that's Sergeant Larimore who is mostly tragically absent from this book. The books most precious parts are when she arrives back in France and he is there to greet here and Bess learning that he is the one that alerted Bess mother that she was ill.
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on 28 April 2017
A pleasant read as usual, but just seemed so terribly unlikely. Yet again Bess picks up an admirer who accompanies her on her sleuthing around the country, (there is a war on!) bailed out by Simon or her father whenever she hits a snag. Impossible to work out the ending and no prospect of any romantic interest on Bess's part as no one will ever come close to her father or the perfect Simon. Having enjoyed the other Bess and Routledge novels, I just found this a bit dull.
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"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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on 3 August 2012
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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First Sentence: I stopped just outside the ward and leaned my head against the cool wood of the doorframe.

WWI is raging but it is influenza that battlefield nurse, Bess Crawford, and others which is killing off soldiers. In the midst of the dead is a man whose death isn’t from either war or illness; he’s been murdered and Bess recognizes him. Those who’ve seen the body start to die in ways that seem natural. Before Bess can do anything, she also succumbs to the flu and is sent back to England, but that doesn’t stop her determination to find out who killed the man and why.

The story begins with a powerful and effective opening relating to the impact of the influenza epidemic in the midst of war. What sets the Todds apart is the ability to describe an horrific scene, conveying all the impact, but without going into graphic detail. By contrast, you truly can feel the love and caring that Bess and her family have for one another. It’s also nice to see the progression, albeit very slow progression, of the relationship between Bess and Simon, her father’s bagman.

There is a large collection of characters, but they weren’t confusing. The Todds have truly captured the dedication of the war-time nurses and the contrast of their lives from being on the battlefield and when they return to England, remember that most of the nurses came from the upper classes

“An Unmarked Grave” may be the best in the series, so far. There is drama, intensity and some excellent red herrings.

AN UNMARKED GRAVE (Hist Mys-Bess Crawford-France/England-1918) – VG+
Todd, Charles – 4th in series
William Morrow, June 2012
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on 24 March 2013
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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VINE VOICEon 2 August 2013
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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VINE VOICEon 12 April 2015
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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on 24 June 2013
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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on 20 October 2014
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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