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An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery    by Charles Todd order for
Unmarked Grave
by Charles Todd
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

An Unmarked Grave is the fourth (following A Bitter Truth) in the Bess Crawford Mystery series by the mother and son writing team who go under the name of Charles Todd (also well known for their very popular series starring Inspector Ian Rutledge). Bess is a Nursing Sister during World War I. She grew up in an army family and her influential father (the Colonel) and close friend, Simon Brandon, are both involved in top secret war work.

Bess is in France in the Spring of 1918, dealing with both battle wounds and cases of deadly Spanish Influenza. An orderly points out to her a corpse among the dead that did not come from the wards - and Bess recognizes a family friend, Major Carson. She suspects murder, but before she can report it, falls deadly ill herself. After Simon takes her back to England to her parents' care, the incident seems like a dream.

Then Bess learns that Major Carson has been reported dead in battle. But when she returns to France, she finds that the orderly who brought the matter to her attention apparently committed suicide - and he's only the first in a trail of dead bodies, of those who knew anything about this matter.

Of course, Bess follows said trail in England and in Europe, despite attempts on her own life. She's assisted by an American, Captain Barclay (recovering from his wounds and masquerading as an orderly). Simon and her father pursue other clues on the same hunt. They conclude that the killer has a final target, and soon Bess is in a desperate race against time to stop another murder, this one in England.

I enjoyed An Unmarked Grave very much and highly recommend this series to you. The author(s) make it all immediate, so that readers feel part of the action and the anguish. And though it might seem strange for a Nursing Sister like Bess to be in a position to flit around investigating murders, the authors make it all very credible. Bess is an appealing character and I look forward to more of her adventures, as well as the development of her relationships with both Simon and her American admirer.

2nd Review by Mary Ann Smyth:

I just finished, with regret, An Unmarked Grave by the mother and son writing team of Charles Todd. I say regret because these two can't write fast enough for me. I wasn't too sure when they started a new series featuring Bess Crawford that they could pull off as fine a one as that featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge. How wrong can anyone be?

It's the spring of 1918 as the Spanish flu is raging across the world. Battlefield nurse Bess Crawford must not only care for the wounded from the French front but now contends with hundreds of influenza patients as well. To her horror, she discovers among bodies waiting for burial one who has been murdered. The soldier in question is someone she knows. He served in her father's regiment and was a family friend.

Bess falls ill with the flu and, while her life hangs in the balance, the murdered man is buried. The only other person to examine this dead soldier has hung himself! Or has he? Could this man's death be another murder?

Bess works through her father's connections to discover why the family friend was killed. This, of course, puts her life in peril. An Unmarked Grave is a mystery, after all.

Charles Todd writes with the heart of a detective and the soul of an historian. The prose is almost lyrical and a pure pleasure to read. You've guessed by now that Charles Todd is at the top of my favorite authors list. Rightly so.

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