Thursday, June 7, 2012

book review: An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd

The backstory: An Unmarked Grave is the fourth title in the Bess Crawford historical mystery series by mother and son writing team Charles Todd. I've reviewed the first three titles in this series: A Duty to the Dead, An Impartial Witness, and A Bitter Truth.

The basics: The novel opens in France in the spring of 1918 when the Spanish influenza is killing many on the front lines. When a private discovers an extra body in the shed, Bess once again finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery.

My thoughts: One of the things I love most about this series is the character of Bess Crawford. She is both innocent and experienced. She's confident and bold, yet her behavior conforms to the societal norms of her times. Despite being mysteries set in the war, there is a gentleness to this series as Bess is a nurse not a constable.

In many ways, then, An Unmarked Grave surprised me. Almost all of the action takes place in France, where both the front lines and Spanish influenza pose major risks to everyone. Danger was imminent on each page. A body appears at the beginning of the novel, which is also characteristic of a more traditional detective story, and it immediately took this novel to a dark and sinister place.

The verdict: An Unmarked Grave is the most intense and fast-paced Bess Crawford mystery yet. I was riveted to the action  and shocked Todd was bold enough to put so many major characters in harm's way. The high stakes of war and disease were illuminating and depressing. It's a wonderful mystery, and it will delight readers of this series. I don't think it would work well as a stand-alone novel, however, as the action is so fast-paced that a knowledge of the regular characters will help readers distinguish the large cast of new characters.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 272 pages
Publication date: June 5, 2012
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy An Unmarked Grave from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.) Want more opinions? Check out the entire blog tour.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

12 comments:

  1. I'm always looking for a great new mystery series, but with so many of them out there - I never even know where to begin. I'll definitely have to check these stories out - sounds like a lot of fun!

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    1. Brooke, I feel the same way! My list of mysteries to read is so long. I really enjoy this series because they feel so authentic to the period. I think of them more as historical dramas than mysteries sometimes.

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  2. Totally unfamiliar with Bess Crawford. Sounds interesting. I can't say no to historical fiction.

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    1. Ryan, the series is pretty new, but I'm really enjoying them. As this one takes place in spring 1918, I'm curious what direction they'll take when the war ends too!

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  3. I'm really going to have to read this series! I'll have to get caught up with Maisie Dobbs first. ;)

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    1. I love Maisie too! They're both such wonderful series. Enjoy!

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  4. Bess is a new-to-me character but I'm totally intrigued and am really looking forward to discovering this series for myself!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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    1. Heather, I hope you enjoy this series!

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  5. I love a good mystery and you make this sound promising indeed! Thank you for the great review. I can't wait to make room in my reading schedule.

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    1. Steph, I hope you enjoy this series as much as I have!

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  6. have enjoyed this author in the past so on my list it goes...

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    1. Diane, I'm eager to read Todd's other series. I hope I enjoy it as much as I have this one.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!