Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An Impartial Witness: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd

I read An Impartial Witness for the Amazon Vine Review program. Although reviews of this book were mixed, I enjoyed it and gave it five stars. It kept me up until 3 in the morning as I couldn't put it down.

This book takes place during World War I and begins not quite in the trenches but at the aid station/hospital nearby. Amidst the muck, mud, blood and filth wounded soldiers are being tended to by devoted nurses who in age where high society women were generally gently cared for, some left it all behind to help nurse the soldiers. Bess Crawford was one of these women. As the story begins, she escorts some of the wounded soldiers back to England and by a fluke sees one of her wounded soldier’s wife crying in the arms of another soldier at the train depot. Through a series of circumstances she finds that the woman was murdered later that day and her patient, subsequently commits suicide feeling he has nothing left to live for. She writes to the detective in charge of the investigation to let him know that she had seen the women and then over the course of each leave she gets, she becomes more and more involved finding out who killed the woman.

Solving a mystery during the time of war and almost 100 years before cell phones, faxes, etc. is difficult enough, but breaching the social class distinctions and where honor is everything became far more of a problem. But eventually Bess solves the mystery of who the killer was in time to save her friend from death. Not only was the book interesting, it also gave insight into the war and some of the difficulty the English people and solders faced during that awful time. I enjoy reading this book as it not only tells a story, but it also teaches you. I would certainly be happy to read more books in this series.

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