Book Review: A Duty to the Dead

I did so much reading this summer, I’m going to post reviews more regularly this fall, starting with A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd.

Duty to the Dead coverA Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mysteries Book 1)
by Charles Todd
William Morrow, 2009

Bess Crawford is the onlyl daughter of a British Army officer, so she felt it her duty to volunteer to be a nurse during World War I. The book starts with Bess on the deck of the steamship Britannic just before it hits a mine and starts to sink. The initial explosion knocks Bess off her deck chair and she breaks her arm. The break and cut are bad enough that she is sent home to England to recover. While there, she decides to follow up on a request made of her by Arthur Graham, a dying officer. He asked her to deliver a message to his brother: Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother’s sake. But it has to be set right.”

Back home, Bess contacts Jonathan who invites her to visit the Graham home. She delivers the message, but still doesn’t understand what it means. She knows it hs something to do with Arthur’s brothers–Jonathan, Timothy and their half-brother, Peregrine, who has been locked up in an asylum for years. Her stay becomes extended when Peregrine, arrives from the asylum with a bad case of pneumonia, and Bess seems to be ther only one who wants him to live. She is nothing if not a dedicated nurse.

This is a pretty good mystery, and the sense of time and place is excellent. The war casts a shadow over everyone. Bess knows she will be sent back as soon as she is healed, as does Jonathan who is home recuperating from his war wounds. And his brother Timothy is shamed by the fact that he is unfit to serve due to a club foot. Bess uses her nursing skills on more than one occasion. There are seven books in this series, and I’ll probably read more.

What have you been reading lately?

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