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Bess Crawford mystery: A Duty to the Dead

Title:  A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mystery #1)
Author:  Charles Todd
Pages:  329
Year:  2009
Publisher:  William Morrow
Bess Crawford is a young nurse, serving the wounded British soldiers of WWI.  One soldier, upon realizing he was dying, has entrusted her with a message to be delivered in person to his brother after the soldier’s death.  Bess has been putting off this trip, but after her hospital ship is sunk and she abandons ship, she comes to terms with the fact that she is avoiding her duty and is honor-bound to deliver the soldier’s message.  She arrives at Owlhurst, delivers the message to the soldier’s brother, but soon discovers there is much more to the message than she was told.  She begins to delve into the past of the soldier’s family to see justice done.  While at Owlhurst, her nursing skills are put to use on more than one patient.  Bess is always ready to lend a hand with her practical skills, but runs into a brick wall when she tries to unearth the truth.
Time after time, she is told to leave the past in the past and not bring up painful memories.  Bess knows her duty and believes that the soldier wanted to set things right.  Bess now takes up that mantle.  She wants to make things right in his stead.  The more questions she asks, the more tangled the web of lies becomes.  Time begins to run out as Bess knows her ship-out orders will be arriving any day and the truth is still hampered in the past.  Will the real murderer get away with yet another murder like he/she has over the last 14 years?
I absolutely loved this novel!  I liked the characters, the plot and the tension-filled moments that led up to the revelation of the killer.  I couldn’t put the book down!  I don’t know much about WWI nurses, but I enjoyed learning some about their service lives.  I admire Bess’ sense of seeing justice done no matter the cost to her.  This is a great start to the series and will keep readers entertained throughout.  I can’t wait to dive into the second book in the series, An Impartial Witness.
My rating is 5 stars

Note:  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at
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