When we arrived at the next station, I found lines of gassed men waiting for their turn to be seen. Bandages across their eyes helped some of the pain and was a distinctive marker. They had a hand on the shoulder of the man in front of them, stumbling along, tripping if no one warned them of uneven ground, at the mercy of orderlies and sisters who guided them.
We bathed their skin and did what we could for their lungs. The worst cases would die painfully, the less damaged would linger in a misery that was frightful. An Unmarked Grave, by Charles Todd
One would think being a nursing sister in the trenches of France during WWI would give Bess Crawford enough to worry about. But somehow, this intrepid young woman seems to find herself embroiled in one mysterious and dangerous situation after another. In An Unmarked Grave, the fourth installment in Charles Todd’s excellent series, Bess is herself the target of a killer, on who has killed three others – among them a family friend, and member of Bess’ father’s regiment – and will stop at nothing to carry out his nefarious plan.
Each of the books in this series takes the reader deeper into the history of WWI, and with this one set in 1918, the characters are faced not only with the dangers of battle but the deadly infestation on the Spanish Influenza, which struck down men, women, and children by the score. For this reader, the actual mystery sometimes is secondary to the fascinating picture Todd creates of this period in history.
I also enjoy a series with recurring characters who continue to develop personally as the books go on. In this fourth book, Bess’ relationship with Simon Brandon, her father’s faithful and illustrious batman (the orderly of a British Military officer), begins to develop. When Simon is wounded, Bess acknowledges to herself at least just how important he is to her life as the dawning awareness of her feelings is brought to the fore.
The Bess Crawford mysteries are a worthy collection in the growing literature about WWI. With the popularity of the Downton Abby television series (which is also set during this time period) the interest in this cataclysmic event has grown. These books provide another way of informing readers of this very important period in Western history. I highly recommend them for lovers of historical fiction and mystery.
GIVEAWAY: I have a copy of An Unmarked Grave and A Bitter Truth to giveaway to a Bookstack reader. Leave a comment below for an opportunity. Winner will be chosen at random on July 4, 2012. (US entries only, please.)
Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother and son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.
Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great uncle who served as a flyer in WWI aroused an early interest in the Great War.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this book.