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.