An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

Bess Crawford Mystery Series #2

Published: August 2011 – HarperCollins

Goodreads synopsis: In the early summer of 1917, Bess Crawford is charged with escorting a convoy of severely wounded soldiers from the trenches of France to England. Among them is a young pilot, burned beyond recognition, who carries a photograph of his wife pinned to his tunic. But later, in a crowded railway station, Bess sees the same woman bidding a heart-wrenching farewell to a departing officer, clearly not her husband.

Back on duty in France, Bess is shocked to discover the wife’s photograph in a newspaper accompanying a plea from Scotland Yard for information about her murder, which took place on the very day Bess witnessed that anguished farewell. Granted leave to speak with the authorities, Bess very quickly finds herself entangled in a case of secrets and deadly betrayal in which another life hangs in the balance, and her search for the truth could expose her to far graver dangers than those she faces on the battlefield.

My thoughts: Although it may seem that the synopsis is a spoiler, it isn’t. We learn that information in the first few pages.

I thought the second book in the Bess Crawford series had a different feel to it than the first. Much of it centers around upper class people. There’s an underlying uneasiness that made me think that’s how Bess felt. Bess finds out that murder actually can happen to “nice people”. She’s not as insulated from the world as she once was – even though she’s a nurse on the front she’s finding out that terrible things can and do happen close to home.

As in A Duty to the Dead Charles Todd put me in the atmosphere of the novel. I was in the crowd at the train station,  the fog in a small village, the medical tent in France. It’s one of the things I love most about the series. I can see, hear and feel the setting.

I had two possibilities for the murderer. One was right but I still wasn’t entirely certain. I’m really enjoying the series and look forward to the next book:  A Bitter Truth.

Note: I wonder if Simon will start to play a more personal role in Bess’ life.

Source:  HarperCollins via Book Club Girl for the Bess Crawford Read-Along.

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Book Beginnings on Fridays

Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author.

♦  ♦  ♦

I’m reading Next to Love by Ellen Feldman. I’m about 50 pages in. I haven’t gotten to the real meat of the story yet but so far, I’m enjoying it.

For fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, The Postmistress, and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a story of love, war, loss, and the scars they leave set during the years of World War II and its aftermath.  (from the Goodreads synopsis)

July 17, 1944

In the year and a half Babe Huggins has worked for Western Union, she has been late only once before. Maybe that’s why in the months to come she will occasionally persuade herself that some premonition delayed her this morning.

More Than You Know by Penny Vincenzi

Title:  More Than You Know

Author:  Penny Vincenzi

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  April 2012 – Doubleday

My take:  The setting is (mostly) London. The time is late 1950s to early 1970s.  Eliza Fullerton-Clark is old money, Matt Shaw is no money. Matt is an old basic training buddy of Eliza’s brother Charles. They first meet when Charles and Matt are on leave. There’s an attraction but, given their different backgrounds, neither Eliza nor Matt take it seriously. They meet some time later and find the attraction cannot be ignored. They marry but, as much as Matt loves Eliza, he can’t get rid of the chip on his shoulder where the class difference is concerned. That remains an underlying issue in their marriage.

They start a family and get on with life. Given the time period, you can imagine the issues that pop up: women working outside the home, abortion, drugs, etc. Vincenzi works them all into the story of Matt and Eliza as well as the secondary characters.

More Than You Know is an emotional and entertaining story of the Fullerton-Clark and Shaw families and their friends during a time of great change.

Note: Vincenzi did a great service for her readers by providing a Cast of Characters at the beginning. Without it, it would have been easy to forget who each character was and how he/she fit into the story.

Source:  Doubleday

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Sunday Post #13

After a week off the Sunday Post is back. I wish I could say I’ve been reading a lot of books but I finished only one  in the past week. I’m in the middle of two and hope to finish both soon. The book I finished is Once Upon a List by Robin Gold. The review will post in a couple of weeks. It’s the second Avon Impulse title I’ve read and I think that will be a go-to imprint when I’m in the mood for a fun read. The first was Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman by JB Lynn.

Currently reading:

More Than You Know by Penny Vincenzi

An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

I’ll leave you with a photo of granddaughter Grace. She spent about a minute looking at a book she pulled out of her toy basket. I think that’s a long time for a 9 month old 🙂

Book Beginnings on Fridays

Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author.

I’m reading An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd. It’s the second book in the Bess Crawford Mystery series. As you can see in the sidebar to the right, I’m reading the series as part of a Read-Along. I really enjoyed the first book in the series so I have high hopes for An Impartial Witness. I’m only a couple of chapters in and well on my way to finding out whodunit.

Early Summer, 1917

As my train pulled into London, I looked out at the early summer rain and was glad to see the dreary day had followed me from Hampshire. It suited my mood.

I had only thirty-six hours here. And I intended to spend them in bed, catching up on lost sleep. The journey from France with the latest convoy of wounded had been trying.

Back of the book synopsis:

In the early summer of 1917, Bess Crawford is charged with escorting a convoy of severely wounded soldiers from the trenches of France to England. Among them is a young pilot, burned beyond recognition, who carries a photograph of his wife pinned to his tunic. But later, in a crowded railway station, Bess sees the same woman bidding a heart-wrenching farewell to a departing officer, clearly not her husband.

Back on duty in France, Bess is shocked to discover the wife’s photograph in a newspaper accompanying a plea from Scotland Yard for information about her murder, which took place on the very day Bess witnessed that anguished farewell. Granted leave to speak with the authorities, Bess very quickly finds herself entangled in a case of secrets and deadly betrayal in which another life hangs in the balance, and her search for the truth could expose her to far graver dangers than those she faces on the battlefield.