book review: A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

I've been craving mysteries lately, especially historical mysteries. I read a few glowing reviews of A Duty to the Dead, the first in a new historical mystery series by Charles Todd. The reviews were right.

The novel is set in 1916, and it opens with the British hospital ship Britanic being hit. The action grabbed me right away, and I instantly felt an affinity for Bess, the narrator. She's an army nurse and an independent woman.

The crux of the novel is unraveling the mysterious final message a dying solider entrusted Bess with. She has romantic feelings for him, and she takes the post-Britanic break to visit his family to deliver his dying message. Bess is smart, proper and independent all at the same time. The prose flows beautifully, and the setting is luscious.

I loved this book, and I read it in less than a day. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the next Bess Crawford novel! I'm also eager to read Charles Todd's other mystery series featuring Ian Rutledge. There are eleven novels in that series so far. There is also one stand alone novel, The Murder Stone. Charles Todd is actually Caroline and Charles Todd (Caroline was robbed!), a mother and son writing team.

Have you read the Ian Rutledge series? How do they compare to Duty to the Dead?

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Pages: 336 pages
Publication date: August 25, 2009
Source: my local public library 

Buy A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery from Amazon now!
(By clicking this link, I will receive a small percentage referral bonus from Amazon, which does not affect the price you pay.)


  1. I requested this one from my library as soon as I saw that it was coming out. I couldn't get past the first 50 pages though and returned it unread. After reading your review perhaps I should give it another try.

  2. This sounds great! It's been a long time since I've read an historic fiction mystery. I feel like they add an extra level of erriness. :)


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