Morning, everyone! I'm part of the TLC blog tour for Charles Todd's An Unmarked Grave, the fourth title in the Bess Crawford series.
While working as a nurse at a field hospital in France, a startling discovery is brought to Bess's attention: an orderly has found a suspicious body amongst the dead. He's certain that it doesn't belong and a second check of his counts confirms. What's more, the body is unmarked with the exception of an obviously broken neck, leaving both Bess and the orderly concerned. It would seem the dead man was slipped in amongst the other bodies in the hopes that someone could cover it up. What makes it more shocking is that Bess recognizes the dead man as a member of her father's old unit. Before she can inquire or raise any alarms, Bess becomes the latest victim of Spanish Influenza. When she recovers, she fears it was all a dream. That is until the soldier's wife receives notification of his death. But the letter claims the man died on the front, which means his body would never have been at the field hospital at all. Furthermore, it claims he was hit by shrapnel with no mention of a broken neck. Unfortunately, while Bess was ill the orderly died under suspicious circumstances. Now Bess is the only one with any knowledge of the misplaced body.
Here's the book trailer to pique your interest further:
It was fortunate that this book fell between my finishing Phillip Rock's The Passing Bells and the arrival of the second book in the trilogy. I've been left anxious to begin Circle of Time and, considering it also takes place during WWI, this latest Bess Crawford was just the thing to tide me over!
Though this was my first Bess Crawford (and my first Charles Todd), I had no trouble at all diving in mid-series. The story seems to fare well on its own and I didn't feel as though I was missing any information pertinent to this particular installment. I was aware that I was missing a lot of backstory but if I didn't know this was the fourth in the series, I doubt I would have noticed in the least.
Bess is a truly engaging character. In my opinion she comes across both as a believable heroine of her time but also, considering her sensibilities, appealing to a modern reader. She's clever and determined as well as being a formidable young lady. In spite of being knocked over by the flu and the apparent danger of her knowledge of a murder, she's unwilling to forgo her responsibilities as a nurse and wait for danger to pass. Instead, she returns to France as soon as she has the opportunity -- thereby giving herself the opportunity to investigate in spite of the knowledge that she's put herself right in the crosshairs of a dangerous and ruthless killer.
Charles Todd is the pseudonym for mother and son writing team, Charles and Caroline Todd. This is one of two series the team writes together and, based on this particular installment, it seems they're the perfect union of skills. The story is seamless in both style and pacing. Their research and knowledge of the setting also comes across fantastically. Obviously I have no first hand knowledge of the period, but I found all of the details to be completely convincing.
I'm looking forward not only to starting this series from the beginning, but also in jumping into Todd's Ian Rutledge series next month with Proof of Guilt.
For more stops on the tour visit the official TLC tour page here.
To learn more about the authors and their work, visit their official website here. You can also like them on Facebook.