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A Duty To The Dead [Paperback]

Charles Todd
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 9 2010

“Another winner....Todd again excels at vivid atmosphere and the effects of war in this specific time and place. Grade: A.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer


“Readers who can’t get enough of Maisie Dobbs, the intrepid World War I battlefield nurse in Jacqueline Winspear’s novels…are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford.”
New York Times Book Review


Charles Todd, author of the resoundingly acclaimed Ian Rutledge crime novels (“One of the best historical series being written today” —Washington Post Book World) debuts an exceptional new protagonist, World War I nurse Bess Crawford, in A Duty to the Dead. A gripping tale of perilous obligations and dark family secrets in the shadows of a nightmarish time of global conflict, A Duty to the Dead is rich in suspense, surprise, and the impeccable period atmosphere that has become a Charles Todd trademark.

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A Duty To The Dead + An Impartial Witness: A Bess Crawford Mystery + An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery
Price For All Three: CDN$ 39.12

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Product Description


“Winning....Fans of independent women sleuths like Maisie Dobbs will welcome this new addition to their ranks.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Anyone who cares to loll in early-20th century English villages and mores and follow a plucky heroine as she confronts the stupidity of war will find solace in this old-fashioned mystery.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Todd employs all the elements of a satisfying cozy mystery, with an absorbing plot and a charismatic heroine that will leave the reader wanting more.” (Library Journal)

“Full of rich historical details, this novel contrasts the beauty of the English countryside with the horrors of a war that devastated families....Absorbing.” (Romantic Times)

“Readers who can’t get enough of Maisie Dobbs, the intrepid World War I battlefield nurse in Jacqueline Winspear’s novels, or Hester Latterly, who saw action in the Crimean War in a series of novels by Anne Perry, are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford.” (New York Times Book Review)

“The superb start of a new historical series....A welcome old-fashioned mystery and a brilliant start to a character with plenty more to discover in future books.” (New Mystery Reader)

“A compelling story, a complex mystery and a revealing look deep into human nature.” (Winston-Salem Journal (NC))

“A tense psychological drama, steeped in the tragedy of the Great War.” (Iron Mountain Daily (Michigan))

“Todd’s novels are known for compelling plotting with a thoughtful whodunit aspect, rich characterization, evocative prose and haunting atmosphere, and A Duty to the Dead excels at each. Another moving entry in a growing and distinguished body of work, it is neither easily put down nor easily forgotten.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“A Duty to the Dead has all the elements of a good mystery—action, suspense, murder, love, a damsel in distress.” (Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City))

“Another winner....Todd again excels at vivid atmosphere and the effects of war in this specific time and place. Grade: A.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“The Todd books offer an insight into and a grim reminder of the avalanche of broken bodies and minds that came back from France in 1918 as well as a reminder of how little was done to restore them.” (Washington Times on A Duty to the Dead)

“An absorbing story that will not disappoint Todd’s fans.” (Contra Costa Times on A Duty to the Dead)

“Here is a brave, smart and likable young heroine who will please Todd fans.” (Evansville Courier & Press on A Duty to the Dead)

“This is a wonderful new mystery series that will let us see the horrors of World War I through the eyes of Bess Crawford, a battlefield nurse. A Duty to the Dead is a richly realistic depiction of both the era and people who lived through it. (Margaret Maron, Edgar Award–Winning author of Death’s Half Acre)

From the Back Cover

Dedicated to helping the many wounded during the Great War, Bess Crawford receives a desperate request from a dying lieutenant while serving as a nurse aboard a hospital ship. "Tell my brother Jonathan that I lied," the young man says. "I did it for Mother's sake. But it has to be set right."

Back home in England, Bess receives an unexpected response from the dead soldier's family, for neither Jonathan Graham‚ his mother‚ nor his younger brother admit to understanding what the message means.

But the Grahams are harboring a grim secret, and Bess must, somehow, get to the bottom of it. It is her sacred duty to the dead, no matter how painful, or dangerous, that obligation might be.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Engaging Aug. 25 2011
By Heather Pearson TOP 500 REVIEWER
It's 1916 and nurse Bess Crawford has been sent home to England on leave to recover from her wounds. While there she is determined to finally deliver a message entrusted to her by a soldier who died while in her care.

She is surprised that the family of the soldier receive this message and appear to dismiss it immediately. Bess is concerned at their nonchalance to what the soldier has deemed a desperately important missive. Her determination to see this message through and to understand it's importance leads her into a course of events that she could not have imagined.

I was captivated by the character of Bess. She is definitely the type of person I would choose as a friend and confident. Not only is she smart and independent, she has a sense of right that won't allow her to let something alone when she knows it isn't right.

This story had so many twist and turns that I was eager to be finished one page to get on to the next to see what was waiting for me. I am looking forward to reading more of Bess's adventures.

Author Charles Todd is actually a mother and son writing duo of Caroline and Charles Todd. They are also the authors of the successful Inspector Rutledge novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars COMPELLING, ATMOSPHERIC, SUSPENSEFUL Nov. 20 2009
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
The mother and son writing team known as Charles Todd has written 11 highly acclaimed Ian Rutledge mysteries, each recognized for scrupulous attention to historic detail, careful plotting, well developed characters, and riveting psychological suspense. The same is true of A DUTY TO THE DEAD in which Todd introduces a new series featuring Bess Crawford.

While Bess lived in 1916 she's more than a match for any contemporary mystery heroine. The daughter of a highly principled and equally highly disciplined officer she inherited these qualities in large doses. It is 1916 and Bess follows in her father's footsteps by serving as a nurse in the Great War. During training she is cautioned about becoming too fond of her patients. "They are yours to comfort, yours to heal, but not yours to dream about." Nonetheless, Arthur Graham found a special place in her heart, and she made a deathbed promise to him, a vow to take a brief, rather cryptic message to his brother, Jonathan.

However, it is some time before she can keep that promise as when our story opens she is aboard the ill-fated hospital ship Britannic. Todd's description of the explosion that rocks the ship and the ensuing sinking is intense, gripping. Bess suffers a broken arm but does manage to find a place in a lifeboat and is eventually sent to England for recoveryr. It is then that she goes to Arthur's home in Kent.

While at first she is welcomed warmly Bess is astute; she recognizes a sorely fragmented family. There is Arthur's widowed mother, a domineering matriarch. Jonathan is a lieutenant who has suffered a facial wound, another brother, Timothy, who was born with a clubfoot and appears bitter because he could not join the service.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You have a duty to read this mystery! July 1 2010
Charles Todd is a mother/son writing team who have written a bunch of mysteries with a male detective. This novel begins a new series for them with a new main character, a female nurse. It's set in World War 1 and Bess Crawford has volunteered for duty serving in the nursing corps. Bess is injured when the ship she is on is fired on by a submarine and sinks. She's sent home to recover. While at home recovering she attempts to make good on a promise she made to a young officer who died in her care.

This story is driven along by the concept of the duty to the dead. She is determined to not only carry out his last wishes but to also understand them. For this she must travel to his home, live with his family and become involved in their very intricate relationships.

This is a great period novel. The atmosphere is just right, the setting and characters are spot on and the mystery is engaging. I really enjoyed this novel and will be looking to read more of this series.
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