Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd

A Bitter Truth is an engrossing story with interesting characters who develop more fully with each addition to the Bess Crawford series. The series, which began in 2009 with A Duty to the Dead, is written by a mother and son team under the name Charles Todd. I don’t usually like co-written books, but I really enjoy this series. The narrator, an intelligent and likeable English battlefield nurse during the Great War, is compelling, and the historical information is told in a subtle and effective way, adding to the story rather than pulling the reader out of it.

In A Bitter Truth, Bess finds herself involved in a family mourning the loss of one son, with a second son lashing out in grief and pain after his own war injury. He and his wife are estranged; his mother and grandmother mourn not only the dead soldier but a child who died tragically many years before. After an argument involving a guest in the house, the guest is found murdered, and everyone in the house at the time including Bess is under suspicion. Another plot thread involves an orphaned French child who may or may not be the daughter of the living son.

There are some plot holes, as well as some twists that are highly implausible. However, I was fully involved in the story and I forgave the issues with the plot. If you like historical mysteries with a heavy emphasis on character interaction (like books by Anne Perry, for example), I recommend A Bitter Truth as well as the entire Bess Crawford series.

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