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A Duty to the Dead Paperback – Aug 17 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (Aug. 17 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061791776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061791772
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 195 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #118,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Heather Pearson TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 25 2011
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
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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By Marablaise TOP 500 REVIEWER on Sept. 16 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
A Duty to the Dead is the first book in the Bess Crawford series.

I have previously read book seven in the series; A Pattern of Lies a little while ago and I just absolutely loved that book. And, of course I wanted to read the series from the beginning and lucky me; I own the first book as an eBook.

Bess Crawford works as a nurse during WW1 and is home now after being onboard a hospital ship that sunk. She survived with a broken arm and since she can't work decides to travel to Kent to visit the mother and sibling of a dying soldier last word; "Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother's sake. But it has to be set right." But the strange thing is that neither the mother nor the brothers admit to know what the message is about. But then Bess learns that there is another brother, incarcerated in a lunatic asylum'

I think this series is starting to be one of my favorites. Now I have only read two books, but I feel that the WW1 milieu and the characters are truly well-done. Bess Crawford is not an amateur sleuth, she is a nurse and the mystery she happens to stumble on isn't something she had plane to solve. She just happens to be the one that starts it all, the one that sets everything in motion. And, that is one thing I really love about this book, Bess feels like a solid character with her feet steady on the ground. There is no romance luring left and right on the book. No sweetheart. I mean I'm not against romance in books, but mostly I want it to have a smaller place in the story.

I found the first book in the series quite good. The mystery about the message and the brother everyone is trying to forget was really good and I was gripped by the whole story.
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By Jill Meyer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 4 2010
Format: Paperback
and make way for Elizabeth Crawford. Charles Todd - a mother/son writing team famous for their wonderful Ian Rutledge novels - have created a new character, Elizabeth (Bess) Crawford, a British nurse in WW1. The time frame of the Crawford novel is slightly earlier than that of the Rutledge novels. The Rutledge stories take place in the years after WW1, with some flashbacks to his time at war. Crawford is shown (at least so far) working during the war.

I'm not going to write a lot about the story, which is excellent, but rather about the writing. I've read most of Todd's Rutledge books and think the writing is absolutely first rate. That continues on to their second series of book. (I'm assuming the A Duty to the Dead is the first in a series and not a stand-alone novel).
There seems not to be a word out of place, a character introduced but not dealt with in the story, or any rambling. It's air-tight writing and editing. What I wonder about is if two writers, writing together, tend to edit each other's writing as they go along in their collaboration?

Todd's Bess Crawford compares favorably with Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs. Both are fully developed characters as defined - and refined - in their writers' words. Dobbs' London is post-WW1, moving into the 1930's. Both are well worth reading, as are Todd's earlier series, Ian Rutledge.

I'm looking forward to many more Bess Crawford novels.
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