William Morrow/HarperCollins August 12, 2014
Genre: Mystery, World War I, England, France
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars for Good
Source: Free copy from William Morrow/HarperCollins in exchange for a review. The following review is written from my own opinion.
Barnes and Noble
There have been seven books (one a short story) in the Bess Crawford series.
Barnes and Noble has a list for the series.
I've read all of them except, A Question of Honor.
The Charles Todd writing team is mother and son. They have 2 sets of mystery books with the time period of World War I and post World War I.
In the first series, Bess Crawford, is a Nursing Sister in France, during World War I. Her father has a military background. Bess is a reserved, observant, quiet, polite, strong-willed, determined, young single woman. So far in the series she does not have a boyfriend. When she is in London, she stays in a rooming house with other Nursing Sisters, the home owned by a Mrs. Hennessy. Bess is able to stay a few days for R and R at the rooming house after she transports wounded men back from France, and to England. The time period for the first Bess Crawford book begins in 1916, An Unwilling Accomplice, is set in the fall of 1918.
A second series of books are the Inspector Detective, Ian Rutledge, of Scotland Yard. Rutledge is a veteran of World War I. The series begins in 1919. He suffers from PTSD. He is single, he and his fiance broke it off in the first book. His partner in detective work is a quirky character (not all see him). Ian is a wonderful character, because he is transparent, honest, dimensional. There have been sixteen books written on Ian Rutledge. I've read several of them.
Bess Crawford has just arrived at Mrs. Hennessey's rooming house for a brief break from the front-lines of war in France. She has a letter from the War Office, asking her to escort a wounded veteran to Buckingham Palace, in order to receive a medal from the King. Even though she does not recognize the name of the soldier, he claims she nursed him after injury. After the award ceremony the soldier disappears. Bess is blamed, her reputation and career is at stake. Bess with the help of a family friend, Simon Brandon, begins the search for the AWOL wounded soldier.
I love the Bess Crawford character, even though she is not a dramatic heroine, she has a quiet and strong-willed demeanor. These character traits I admire in anyone. I suspect she is an introvert, I can relate to this.
An Unwilling Accomplice, showed me how the war has affected Bess. From the first page, her weary mind, body, and spirit, are spent. Even when she tries to sleep (and she does sleep) she finds it odd the big guns are not booming. Her psyche has become accustomed to the war and wounded. When the war is over she will need to decompress. Other traits I admire in Bess is her communication skills. She expresses her self very well no matter whom she is addressing. She remains humble and with conviction.
During World War I, PTSD, was an under-addressed and misunderstood issue. Most people, especially the general population did not understand. Preconceived ideas, criticism, judgment, and fear of the person are common reactions. I felt An Unwilling Accomplice, touched on this issue of PTSD.
Other factors of her knowledge and experience of nursing are brought into the story, delivering a breech baby, removing a bullet, dressing changes.
Simon has an active role in the story, he is in most of the scenes where Bess is looking for clues. I'm curious as to where their relationship is going. Is there more than a family friend fondness? I was sort of hoping Bess and Ian would meet at some point, I think they'd like each other.
My favorite part of the book was all of it but the ending. The ending seemed messy, and I'm not referring to bloody messy. It's as if something is not quite right, a disjointed atmosphere. I don't know how else to explain it.