A Review: An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
Bess Crawford is serving as a nurse in France during WWI when she suddenly comes down with Spanish influenza. An illness that is killing more than the shots fired on the battlefield, Bess is quickly transported back to England and into the care of her parents. However, when Bess finally emerges from her prolonged sickness, she remembers the events that occurred just before she succumbed to the illness. Was the body Private Wilson revealed to her that of Major Carson, a family friend and celebrated military man? And, if so, why was his body covered in an ill-fitting uniform without identification? Slowly Bess begins to put the pieces together in order to uncover an act that she believes must be shown justice. As Bess trust her instincts and takes action, in her desperate attempt to discover the murderer, the target begins to track her every move and harm all those that stand in the way.
An Unmarked Grave is a title in a series of novels following the nurse/detective Bess Crawford during the Great War. I was unfamiliar with this series, but agreed to read this one without first discovering the others written before. If you're looking for a new series to get involved with, I suggest taking the time to look this one up. I could easily grasp the characters and the dynamics between them without reading the novels prior. I had a sense of who Bess was on her own, through her actions and thought processes, without really needing other characters to provide much detail.
I was drawn to this title because it sounded very similar to the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, which I've become quite fond of. While the two focus on the same period, same profession and face the same hardships, Todd's novel felt like a more authentic description of life as a nurse on the lines, or a soldier on leave in a busy city, slowly being lost to an enemy. There was grit and reality that seemed to shine through in An Unmarked Grave that I've always wanted to find in the Maisie Dobbs series. I also appreciated that the authors didn't repeat Bess's story again and again to keep the reader up to speed if they had not read the previous titles in the series. While I understand the logic behind adding these details, I have always felt that Winspear takes it a level that is unnecessary and spoils the pacing of the story.
My only complaints were that many of the situations seemed to work out too perfectly against odds that just were not plausible, and the motive, finally uncovered, was hastily explained and just a bit weak. The charming characters and their stories, trials and successes really made this book an enjoyable read for me.
If you enjoy historical wartime dramas, with strong female leads, and mysteries that keep you going until the very conclusion of the book, a Bess Crawford mystery is worth looking into.
I received a copy of An Unmarked Grave from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review of the title.
To learn more about the authors, visit their website: http://charlestodd.com/.