A Duty to the Dead
Bess Crawford Mystery, book oneby Charles Toddcopyright: 2009
publisher: HaperCollins Publishers
finished reading: March 5, 2012
Read for... Bess Crawford Read Along
Goodreads Description: The daughter of a distinguished soldier' Bess Crawford follows in his footsteps and signs up to go overseas as a nurse during the Great War' helping to deal with the many wounded. There' serving on a hospital ship' she makes a promise to a dying young lieutenant to take a message to his brother' Jonathan Graham: "Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother′s sake. But it has to be set right." Later' when her ship is sunk by a mine and she′s sidelined by a broken arm' Bess returns home to England' determined to fulfill her promise.
First Sentence: At sea...This morning the sun is lovely and warm.
My Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this story. So much so, that I am very glad that I have at least three more Bess Crawford books to read. Set during World War I - England - with a very able and independent woman, Bess Crawford. This is my kind of story. To top that off, Bess is a nurse during the war. I love female characters who have worth and strong qualities admist a male dominated arena. Bess completely won me over. She is not a perfect character, but I do believe her flaws made her even all that more appealing.
I am not a mystery reader, by nature, so I was quite pleased to find myself completely enjoying this mystery story. It is not complex, but deep enough that it took me until towards the end before I had a good idea of who-dunnit. Truly though, what kept me with the story was Bess herself. She became entangled in the lives of strangers who harbor a family secret. This secret has destroyed lives and buries murder. Bess takes up the cause to help unravel the truth, bit by bit, in order to possibly help clear a man's name, and to follow-through on a promise made to a dying soldier. She is one smart woman full of integrity, and compassion.
I know there are more adventures in store for Bess, and I look forward to reading where those adventures will take us.
Bottom line: I truly left this book with a feeling that the Bess Crawford story was one fantastic and absorbing mystery. Simplistic? Maybe, but not really for me. There were enough twist and turns present to keep me guessing.
Book Cover: I like it well. It does give off a mysterious early 1900's feeling. It gained my attention.
Memorable moment: The time Bess spent abroad the Britannic continues to stand out to me. She experiences it's sinking. These scenes did their job, I felt her horror and confusion during this moment in history, so much so, that I searched out information regarding Britannic.
Note Worthy Quotes:
“If you remember, when you first decided to train as a nurse, I warned you that the burden of watching men suffer and die would be a heavy one. Young Graham just brought that home in a very personal way…. As to the message. Would you like to tell me what it is, and let me judge?”
"During training, we’d been warned about letting ourselves care too much for our patients. “They are yours to comfort, yours to heal, but not yours to dream about,” Matron had told us firmly. “Only foolish girls let themselves be drawn into romantic imaginings. See that you are not one of them.” Good advice. But Matron hadn’t foreseen Arthur Graham. …I wasn’t foolish enough to believe it was love, but I was honest enough to admit I cared more than I should…. And truth be told…there was a promise I’d made. Freely."
1. Was this the first book that you read by Charles Todd, or, the first book set in this time period?
This was my first book by Charles Todd. As of answering this question, I have now completed two books by this author team, and have decided that I most definitely want to read their other series, Inspector Ian Rutledge.
2. What was your first impression of Bess Crawford? Were you surprised by the independence she enjoyed as a woman in this time, and that her parents afforded her so much freedom? Did your opinion of Bess change throughout the novel?
My first impression was positive, straight away. I was a bit surprised by her independence during this time period, but then again I was not. There is war going on thus women were left to their own resources. Not only that, her upbringing was not "traditional". Due to her parents' lifestyle - father's occupation - I am not that much surprised by the freedoms they afforded Bess. My opinoin of Bess only continued to positively grow as they story progressed.
3. Did you know that large ocean liners, such as the Brittanic, which was a sister ship to both the Titanic and the Olympic, were called into service as hospital ships during the war?
I was unaware of Britannic before reading this story, and was most definitely unaware that luxury liners were brought into service as hospital ships. This part of history absolutely fascinates me to no end. After reading this book, I found myself digging up as much information on Britannic as I could find. Then I trailed into learning more about Navy Hospital ships. Fascinating stuff to me.
4. What did you think of Arthur's message? Do you think it was fair of him to ask Bess to deliver it? Why do you think she was so committed to not only delivering it, but to making sure it was followed by the Graham family?
Arthur's message was intriguing. It certainly helped to set the tone for this mystery. I do not think it was a question of fair or unfair that Arthur requested Bess to deliver his message- it is what it is, a dying man wanting to set a wrong right and had no other option but to make his request as he did. Bess made a promise, and she felt its importance even without knwong the details - simple as that as to why she not only delivered the message but made sure it was followed through.
5. Did you guess who the real killer was before he was revealed?
I had a strong idea right before he was revealed, and only because Bess gave good clues at this point.