Aug 21, 2011

Book Review: A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd


I smiled.  "You would have done the same for me, I think, if you had found me on your doorstep with nowhere to go."
She nearly laughed at that. "My doorstep?" she began, then broke off, shaking her head. "I live in the country," she added after a moment. "We seldom find strangers at our door." (ch. 1)

Title: A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd
Publisher: William Morrow, August 30, 2011. Hardcover: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Objective rating: 4.5/5

About: The time is 1917 and there is a war on. British nurse Bess Crawford has just returned home to England on Christmas leave from nursing wounded soldiers in France. When she arrives at her boarding house, she finds a well dressed but distraught woman huddling in the rain on the front steps and she invites her in, thus unwittingly beginning her involvement with the troubled Ellis family and their history of death and tragedy. Bess is caught up trying to help the distraught woman, Lydia, cope with the rest of her family and especially with her husband Roger. She travels with Lydia to the Ellis family home and has to play amateur sleuth after several murders occur on or near the Ellis family property.

Comments: A gripping historical mystery that is atmospheric and tense. The descriptions of the stark and dreary Shropshire countryside in the middle of winter sets the scene for the story of a family's disfunction and tragedy. The novel also does a good job of capturing the seriousness of a country in the midst of a terrible war, WWI. I was caught up in the plot and feeling the same dread and anxiety as the main characters. The protagonist, Bess, is portrayed as a feminine but strong individual, especially for a woman in her day, and she also makes a convincing amateur sleuth. I enjoy mysteries in general as well as historical mysteries and found this a very interesting read.

12 comments:

Mystica said...

I like this period in history. This story sounds interesting.

bermudaonion said...

I'm glad this is so good! I'm going to meet one of the authors in October.

Harvee said...

Mystica: Hope you get a chance to read it.

Bermudaonion: Can I come along, please..?

Cro Magnon said...

Stark and dreary is a tad overstating the Shropshire winter countryside. I lived there for a while and found all seasons to have good qualities... And me a Sussex/Surrey boy!

Harvee/Book Dilettante said...

Cro Magnon: It could have seemed that way to the English during the war. That description does do wonders for the book's atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

I don't usually read books that take place during wars, but I do love mysteries. I'll have to keep this in mind.

Book Dilettante said...

Carol: It's not totally about war but more about the consequences on ordinary people when there is a war.

Marce said...

I love mysteries but can't seem to get into the historical ones but I love the movies.

Thanks for the congratulations. Hope you stop by during Thrill Week.

Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

I hit a wall with any books set during WWI. I don't know why, I just have. Same with the Civil War. I'll get over it. I just need a nice long break.

Yvonne said...

This sounds like a great book.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

So happy you enjoyed this one. I have enjoyed this mother/son team in the past.

Tea said...

Interesting.

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