Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

Author:Charles Todd
Publisher Format: BBC Audiobooks, America: 10 hrs, 55 min

Narrator: Rosalyn Landor

Subject: crime solving
Setting: England/France WW I
Series: Bess Crawford mysteries
Genre: amateur sleuth  detective story
Source: public library audio download

For the past two or three weeks, I've been indulging myself with some great relaxing British mysteries on audio.  One of my latest discoveries, Charles Todd is actually a pseudo name for a mother-son writing duo Caroline and Charles Todd. Many are familiar with their popular Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries (also on my TBR list) but we tend to hear less about the delightful adventures of World War I nurse Bess Crawford - an amateur sleuth who seems to spend as much time getting into other's mysterious challenges as she does nursing.  These books have much in common with the Maisie Dobbs books (I'll be reviewing one of those later this week) but  there is enough difference that the reader does not become confused about the two - even if you are reading one of each at the same time.  I think Maisie is better, but these are satisfactory also.

Bess Crawford, daughter of a British Army officer, was raised in India, is well-educated and quite independent for her times.  Todd gives us interesting period looks at army field hospitals, early 20th century transportation choices, changing class structures and strictures,  and the women's suffrage movement (a peripheral but still strong influence to the story).

In this story, Bess is witness to an encounter she considers a crucial piece in solving the mystery of a young woman's death.  She is quite convinced of her insights, and goes to great lengths to push the authorities to see things her way.  At the same time, the reader is given to ponder whether Bess is becoming too personally involved with several of the main characters.

This is a good solid mystery with a few twists and red herrings.  It is also one that has an ending that could be seen as leaving us hanging.  A nice pleasant, nothing to write home about, read it and go on to the next one mystery.

1 comment:

  1. sometimes just a good solid book is enough. I like outstanding more, but you don't always get it.


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