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Unmarked Grave, An: A Bess Crawford Mystery…
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Unmarked Grave, An: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries) (edition 2013)

by Charles Todd

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2162353,956 (3.67)26
Member:Mausey
Title:Unmarked Grave, An: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries)
Authors:Charles Todd
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2013), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I read the first Bess Crawford mystery and liked it, for the most part. I looked at the next books in the series and it seemed continuity wasn't a big deal, so I went ahead and read #4 since I already had it.

Despite jumping over two books, I had no difficulty in following the story. It follows the chronology of World War I but nothing major had shifted with Bess or her immediate circle; it was really quite self-contained. As a mystery, the pace flows well and it's a fast read. I read 150 pages in one sitting.

One reason I'm reading the books is that I am studying up more on World War I-era medicine. In this regard, I'm still frustrated with the series. This book did show some action at the front, with procedures and the terror of a gas attack, but it didn't dwell much on the medical aspect.

Bess as a character still feels rather empty to me. It's definitely not a character-driven series. I have no idea what she wants. It also seems like her father is too much of a power figure. If anything goes wrong, Colonel Sahib comes to the rescue. He even has her pulled from the front when she comes down with the flu. It makes things awfully convenient far too many times over even as people are out to kill Bess. Through her father's connections she knows almost everyone and can do almost anything.

I already have the second book in the series so I'll go ahead and read that, but overall I find that there are too many bothersome elements here for me to continue beyond that. ( )
  ladycato | Nov 13, 2013 |
Several things have changed since the third tome, A Bitter Truth, of the series. The language is less winsome, flowing, less formidable. I've gone on record saying that I embrace low brow potboilers and dime novels. It's still sad to witness this book and consequently its authors finding it necessary to up the stakes, to add exponential action and to provide parody-like happenstances. Charles Todd was a name I've come to associate with quality and bravery. One can only repel the lure of ease for only so long.

The number of times people survive gun wounds in this story seems greater than the great unwashed's fatal brush with the Spanish Flu. The myriad times of such situations bordered on the farcical. I also didn't like the insinuations that great men by default survived war and that grades in the military was solely based on meritocracy. Charisma cannot substitute for luck and connections in the real world. I wondered if the authors wanted its audience to believe what should be called a deception.

The authors did well to shroud the chilling multi murderer in darkness. Ralph Mitchell was nothing short of a terminator. The mysterious man brought about a smoother climax than any of the previous books. Danger had dogged the heels of the heroine so often that the ending didn't seem forced. While I couldn't keep much concentration in the early chapters, I could keep a hawk like focus on the ever increasing cast of new names that kept adding. I'm a bit hazy about why the killer had embarked on a rampage and the motive escapes me for now. I'm glad I didn't waste my time reading this book - you know what I mean. It was a very good book, and I'm glad I'll remember parts of it forever. ( )
  Jiraiya | Sep 9, 2013 |
A Bess Crawford entry. More action than previous books. But a plot line that went lame at the end. Still this writing duo is a winner. ( )
1 vote librarian1204 | Apr 27, 2013 |
Although I've always been fascinated by World War I, the closest relatives I had who served in it (two great-uncles by marriage)both were prevented by illness from ever going to France. One survived his bout with TB and became a much-loved family member; the other died of influenza at Camp Devens, leaving my great-aunt a widow after a brief marriage. Since she died when I was 4, all I have of that early relationship is Uncle Charles's photo in his Army uniform.

I've enjoyed all Charles Todd's World War I mysteries, both the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford series, but I think I especially liked this one (if "like" is the word for such harrowing reading) because of its setting in the first months of the influenza pandemic.

Nurse Bess Crawford is herself struck down with flu just after she's presented with a mystery, and after her recovery, she tries to follow the cold trail of a ruthless killer. Moving back and forth across the Channel, and with the help of family friend Simon Brandon and a new possible beau who's an American serving in the Canadian forces, she has many adventures before the end.

I actually found the ending a bit deus ex machina for my taste, but I think this is one of those series I read for character and setting more than for plot, so I didn't mind too much. Recommended, if this applies to you as well. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
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I stopped just outside the ward and leaned my head against the cool wood of the doorframe.
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While contending with wounded soldiers and influenza patients, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford stumbles upon the body of an officer and family friend who has been murdered, and uses her father's connections in the military to search for an elusive killer.… (more)

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