Title: An Unmarked Grave (A Bess Crawford Mystery #4)
Author: Charles Todd
This fourth book in the Bess Crawford mystery series has Bess still serving as a nurse in WWI. It is now the spring of 1918, and the battle between the Germans and the British rages on with the wounded continually pouring in to the aid stations. Bess also faces the Spanish Influenza epidemic that begins killing almost as many as the nearby guns. With so many sick or dying, the pressure to help the wounded or sick mounts to astronomical proportions on to the backs of the surviving doctors and nurses. An orderly approaches Bess and shows her that he has an extra body unaccounted for. He shows Bess and she recognizes the dead body even though he is out of uniform and has no identification. She also sees immediately that the man didn’t die of the flu or a war wound; he had been murdered. This man as he is now is destined for an unmarked grave without any identification, but before Bess can report what she knows something happens to her that leaves her unable to complete this task.
This sets in motion a terrifying series of events for some familiar characters in the story: Bess, Simon Brandon, Colonel Crawford and others. The race to find the killer takes Bess back and forth between England and France all the while dodging bombs and bullets of German soldiers during the war. Bess refuses to let the killer’s victims’ deaths be recorded as desertion for one and suicide for another when she knows they have been murdered. She won’t let the surviving family members live with those dark clouds hanging over them. Bess is stalked by the killer, too and must keep up her guard. She finally discovers the killer’s identity, but will she be in time to stop him from committing yet another murder?
This story is jam-packed with action, intensity and tension. The selflessness of Bess is truly commendable. She doesn’t look at a man as German or British when treating a wound, but as a human being in need of care. This time the mystery, wounding and killing hit closer to home than Bess could have imagined. Through it all though Bess keeps a calm head, proceeds with her plan with strength and determination and never gives up. She is such a strong woman for one so young! The series is so realistically set within the WWI timeframe. I have learned much about how soldiers and nurses lived and served their country selflessly. I look forward to reading more of Bess’ adventures in future books.
My rating is 5 stars.