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An Impartial Witness An Impartial Witness is the seuel to A duty to the Dead and I was eager to read this book since this series has become a favorite of mine It's the early summer of 1917 and Bess Crawford is returning home from the trenches of France with a convoy of wounded men One of the patients is Lt Meriwether Evanson a pilot who has been burned beyond recognition and he clings to life much thanks to his wife Marjorie whose picture he has pinned to his tunic But Bess notices a woman on a London train station that is bidding farewell to an officer and she recognizes the women It's the pilots wife But the man isn't her husband She then discovers back on duty in France that the woman has been murdered and Scotland Yard is asking for information from anyone that saw her that day Bess informs the police about what she knows but it's not enough information since she can describe the man the woman was with but she doesn't know who he is and soon she starts her own inuiry to learn who killed Marjorie But it's a frustrating case and it seems that the killer may be getting away with murder and send an innocent man to the gallowsI felt that this book was not as engrossing to read as the first book was but it was still very good but there were moments in the book when I felt that the pacing was a bit slow and I wanted the story to progress a little bit faster Not that the story was bad I mean there were several people in the book that could have been the murderer and it wasn't like I guessed right away who it was I found the story picked up speed towards the end when a man that Bess had befriended was accused of murder and she had to fight to clear his name Then the story got intense and I loved the ending I like Bess Crawford very much she is a well written character and I like the fact that even though everyone in the book seems to think that she has than friendly feelings towards the accused man she is trying to save is she just his friend Not that I wouldn't mind her finding some happiness I have read A Pattern of Lie the perfect man is out there for her she just has to see it but she isn't a woman that is easily swept off her feet And that is something I like Thankfully the book had a strong beginning and ending and despite me feeling that the story dragged here and there in the middle was it a good book and I wasn't sure in the end it would end happily I started Maisie Dobbs but the library I'm at the most doesn't have the second book I remembered that Jess had recommended the Bess Crawford books recently so I picked up the first oneIn general I like historical mysteries so these two had that going for them from the beginning Also I've been a bit passionate about WWI since high school when we read the war poets The Bess Crawford books so far take place during the war rather than after it as with Maisie Dobbs This fact adds a sense of tension In traditional mysteries the detective saves one or innocent suspects from wrongful accusation Here Bess might save them but if they're in the Army they'll be going back to France There are no guarantees that anyone will survive There are no guarantees that witnesses will still be alive when they're called on to give their testimonyAlthough I want to evaluate each series on its own merits it's almost impossible not to compare them So far I think I'm liking Bess a bit I'm reading Birds of a Feather the second Maisie Dobbs book right now I'm finding that Bess's world makes sense to me I want to like Maisie and I do like her character spunky girl detective but some of the details I have a hard time accepting Bess is also interesting in that she doesn't set herself up to be a detective This may mean that eventually I get annoyed with the way mysteries just fall into her lap but for now I find it a bit refreshing This isn't to say that the series is without its confusing points For instance everyone seems to be going back and forth to France all the time Now this may actually be completely historically accurate when I think about it it seems uite likely but an author's note or some other way of pointing to the historical record would ease my mindI'm also completely confused about Simon Brandon and his role He's the Colonel's former batman and he's not in love with Bess's mother That seems to be all we definitely know besides the fact that he's clearly a major part of the Crawford household Sois he in love with the Colonel? If so the hint is WAY too subtle for me Or is he meant to be a bit in love with Bess? A moment at the end of Impartial Witness kind of hints at that but again the hints are way too subtle Hopefully this will get cleared up in future books Finally I read the second book late at night and I was tired so this may account for it to some extent but I found that Bess's involvement and detection was so much less personal than in the first book This makes sense but at the same time it lowered the stakes a bit and made it a tad less engagingAll in all though these two books are excellent examples of historical mysteries with the added suspense of the wartime setting they remind me a bit of Foyle's War in that way Book source public libraryBook information William Morrow AHAHAHAHAHA 2009 and 2010; adult historical mystery If you're confused I think Bess and I are going to have to part ways Mysteries were my first love starting with Nancy Drew then the Grande Dame of all Agatha Christie as well as Patricia Wentworth and than a few American mystery writers Elizabeth Peters Margaret Maron Louise Penny Martha Grimes and the list goes onUnlike some contemporary fiction with a mystery you have a beginning a middle and an end as well as a resolution where justice is served With Bess and her benign tolerance for victims and evil doers alike I am missing the necessary outrage that murder is wrong that the bad guy or bad guys will get their comeuppance Even gentle Miss Marple wanted bad guys to payCharles Todd's books are very well written and Rosalyn Landor's narration especially the women's voices is almost faultless but the there are too many unpleasant characters getting away with too much4 stars for writing uality background and ambience but 2 stars for the mystery element I know I should be admiring Bess Crawford for her determination and perseverance in trying to prove a man innocent but I have to say I found her intensely annoying The mystery despite this was interesting and engaging I find something very ish in the writing of the Charles Todd team I like this series review lost in Shelfari Import An Impartial Witness35 StarsCombat nurse Bess Crawford accompanies a convoy of wounded men home to England While passing through a train station on her return to the front she observes a young woman bidding a tearful farewell to a soldier and recognizes her as the wife of one of her patients When the woman is later found murdered Bess feels compelled to contact Scotland Yard and finds herself drawn into a convoluted case that may just end in the execution of an innocent manAlthough the pacing is slower that the first book and the villain is a little too obvious the story is satisfying overall and the WWI setting is wonderfulBess is an amateur sleuth with a penchant for asking meddlesome uestions and being an all round busybody reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple One cannot help but identify with her need to seek justice for those who cannot do so themselves That said there are moments in which she could be modern and forthright in her reactions to people as there are certainly characters in this book who could do with a good slapThe mystery isn’t the strongest and the culprit and motive are easily determined once the facts of the case begin piling up Nevertheless Todd is very successful at capturing the social nuances of the times in terms of the small town hypocrisy and tendency toward jumping to conclusions as well as the condescending attitudes toward womenRosalyn Landor is a talented narrator and she does an excellent job with both the male and female characters I look forward to listening to Bess’s next adventure in sleuthing It is early summer 1917 Bess Crawford has returned to England from the trenches of France with a convoy of severely wounded men One of her patients is a young pilot who has been burned beyond recognition and who clings to life and the photo of his wife pinned to his tunicWhile passing through a London train station Bess notices a woman bidding an emotional farewell to an officer her grief heart wrenching And then Bess realizes that she seems familiar In fact she's the woman in the pilot's photo but the man she is seeing off is not her husbandBack on duty in France Bess discovers a newspaper with a drawing of the woman's face on the front page Accompanying the drawing is a plea from Scotland Yard seeking information from anyone who has seen her For it appears that the woman was murdered on the very day Bess encountered her at the stationGranted leave to speak with Scotland Yard Bess becomes entangled in the case Though an arrest is made she must delve into the depths of her very soul to decide if the police will hang an innocent man or a vicious killer Exposing the truth is dangerous—and will put her own life on the line I didn't like it but i didn't hate it either so I didn't feel able to give it a single starFor me the problem with this book is that I just didn't care I didn't like any of the characters to the extent that they're even developed and I didn't care abut the plot which had nothing new to offer Bess is an arrogant brat her interference is explained to the reader as an over developed sense of duty blamed on her military father but for me it just comes across as arrogance Bess must investigate again and prevent the conviction of an innocent man because apparently no one else such as the police is going to do anything about it After all there's a war on you knowThat being said I don't think comparisons of this series to Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series are uite fair The Maisie Dobbs seriesand the apparently under appreciated Jade del Cameron series by Suzanne Arruda takes place after the war not during it If anything Bess as an interfering amateur is like Miss Marple than Maisie Not that I consider a comparison to Christie appropriate eitherMaisie Dobbs fans waiting for the next installment should try the Jade del Cameron series Readers who want to know about the front line nursing experience during WWI can try Elsie and Mairi Go To War I'm definitely done with this series I've been on a historical ish kick for the past few weeks and every non historical book hasn't clicked the best with me But now I feel as if I can go back to contemporary books This book was a very good sopho in what seems to be an excellent seriesI loved the MC Bess she was everything I look for in a MC I also liked that the authors featured of Simon in this book He's extremely mysterious and I'd love to learn about him Her parents were also wonderful They gave her so much liberty for the timeperiod she was in; it was refreshingThe mystery was excellent I absolutely did not see that ending coming and the killer simply blew me away The only real problem I had with this book was the fact that it was in a different for the most part setting and featured an almost entirely new cast of characters from the first book I typically don't like that in books however the authors managed to pull it off hereOverall a very solid exciting book I will most certainly be reading the next one Actually about a 35


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About the Author: Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the pen name used by the mother and son writing team Caroline Todd and Charles Todd Together they write the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford Series They have published two standalone mystery novels and many short stories