The basics: While home in England on leave from her nursing post in France during World War I, Bess is asked to accompany a wounded soldier to Buckingham Palace, where he receives an award. Overnight after the ceremony, the soldier vanishes, and Bess immediately falls under suspicion as an accomplice. She sets out to find the soldier herself to clear her name, but the mystery soon turns darker and more dangerous.
My thoughts: One of my favorite things about this series is how well Charles Todd (the mother and son writing team of Charles and Caroline Todd) capture the atmosphere of World War I. Bess is such a dynamic character, and I always learn so much about manners and the time through her internal monologue. At first glance, a modern reader might not grasp the severity of this situation for Bess, but a woman's reputation is so important at this time, professionally and personally. Once again, Todd makes a cozy mystery not very cozy, which I adore.
I also quite enjoy the secondary characters in this series. Simon Brandon has always been a favorite of mine, as I'm fascinated by him and his relationships with Bess's parents and Bess. Simon features prominently in this mystery, and it was a joy to spend so much time with him. As this series creeps toward the end of World War I, I'm quite curious to see what happens to Bess. Todd could choose to write many more mysteries in its remaining months, which I'm sure would be enjoyable, but I'm also quite eager to see what becomes of Bess after the war. Either way, I'll be eagerly anticipating the next installment in this series.
The verdict: An Unwilling Accomplice is another enjoyable, suspenseful mystery in this beloved series. The mystery of this missing soldier is the primary focus of the storyline, but Bess's investigation also leads her to other sad stories of war and its impact on soldiers and communities. Todd manages to tell a story that is both small and large. While the impact of the war outshines the mystery a bit at times, it provides a meaty middle to an intriguing mystery.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 352 pages
Publication date: August 12, 2014
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