Monday, June 18, 2012

TLC Blog Tour - The Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd

Bess Crawford, daughter of an English Colonel, raised in India, now serving as a nurse in World War I, finds herself facing a dead body in a spot where it's not supposed to be, and on its way to be buried with no identification.  Dead bodies usually work well to start off a mystery, but just when she sees this body, she is stricken with a severe case of Spanish flu, becomes delirious and is shipped home to England.  When she awakens, she doesn't know if the body (she knows who the soldier was) was a dream, or if she really did see him dead.  How did he end up where she saw him?  Was he murdered, or did he really die from a war wound? 

Thus begins the fourth book in this enlightening and engaging mystery series. In each of them, Bess manages to find herself in the midst of mystery.  An Unmarked Grave is perhaps the most straightforward of the mysteries in the series, but it is by no means simplistic.  The author(s) continue to expand Bess's personality, enhance her relationship with Simon Brandon (will this develop into a romance in later books?), devise interesting and many layered plots, and provide us with views into the awfulness of War.  Their descriptions of battlefield casualty stations give us a realistic imagery of the horror of the carnage, while at the same time giving us a tribute to the courage of all those working under these unimaginable circumstances.  In addition, their depiction of the ravages of the Spanish Flu adding to the desolation caused by the war itself, serves to paint a realistic and devastating picture of the beginning of the twentieth century.

Sr. Crawford's snooping does at times require the reader to accept a character who is a bit more nosy than one might believe, who has a knack for finding trouble, and an unbelievable amount of luck in being able to call on her father and his aide-de-camp Simon to bail her out, but these escapades make for a well-written story that keeps us turning pages, and leaves us wanting more.  And that's my criteria for a ripping good read!

I've read all of these (there are now four in the series) and I'm not sure I'd recommend starting here if you haven't read any of the previous ones.  That said, the author has done a credible job of giving enough back-fill that it would probably work on its own. 

Author: Charles Todd
Publisher-Format: William Morrow (2012)
Subject: nursing, murder,
Setting: England and France during World War I - 1918
Series: Bess Crawford
Genre: murder mystery - amateur sleuth
Source: Review copy from the publisher for review and participation in TLC blog tour

About Charles Todd

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.

Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great-uncle who served as a flyer in WWI aroused an early interest in the Great War.

Charles learned the rich history of Britain, including the legends of King Arthur, William Wallace, and other heroes, as a child. Books on Nelson and by Winston Churchill were always at hand. Their many trips to England gave them the opportunity to spend time in villages and the countryside, where there’s a different viewpoint from that of the large cities. Their travels are at the heart of the series they began ten years ago.
Charles’s love of history led him to a study of some of the wars that shape it: the American Civil War, WWI and WWII. He enjoys all things nautical, has an international collection of seashells, and has sailed most of his life. Golf is still a hobby that can be both friend and foe. And sports in general are enthusiasms. Charles had a career as a business consultant. This experience gave him an understanding of going to troubled places where no one was glad to see him arrive. This was excellent training for Rutledge’s reception as he tries to find a killer in spite of local resistance.

Caroline has always been a great reader and enjoyed reading aloud, especially poetry that told a story. The Highwayman was one of her early favorites. Her wars are WWI, the Boer War, and the English Civil War, with a sneaking appreciation of the Wars of the Roses as well. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling the world, gardening, or painting in oils. Her background in international affairs backs up her interest in world events, and she’s also a sports fan, an enthusiastic follower of her favorite teams in baseball and pro football. She loves the sea, but is a poor sailor. (Charles inherited his iron stomach from his father.) Still, she has never met a beach she didn’t like.
Both Caroline and Charles share a love of animals, and family pets have always been rescues. There was once a lizard named Schnickelfritz. Don’t ask.

Writing together is a challenge, and both enjoy giving the other a hard time. The famous quote is that in revenge, Charles crashes Caroline’s computer, and Caroline crashes his parties. Will they survive to write more novels together? Stay tuned! Their father/husband is holding the bets.

For more information about this writing team take a look at their Facebook page- there are lots of great photos of England, notes about their journeys, links to other posts about their books, and best thing of all --- excerpts from this latest and greatest in the Bess Crawford series.

And finally, it you'd like a chance to win the whole series, go on over to Criminal Element and enter the giveaway which ends June 21, 2011, 11:59 am ET


  1. Ooh, I love the way you described the start of this book - it definitely has my attention!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  2. Thanks for participating in the the WWI reading Challenge we've added your link to the reviews page and a snippet of the review will appear on the main page on July 9


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