Monday, August 24, 2015

book review: A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd

The backstory: A Pattern of Lies is the seventh mystery featuring World War I nurse Bess Crawford. My reviews of the first six: A Duty to the Dead, An Impartial Witness, A Bitter Truth, An Unmarked Grave, A Question of Honor, and An Unwilling Accomplice.

The basics: The action in A Pattern of Lies centers on the small Kent village of Cranbourne, where a gun powder mill exploded two years ago. More than one hundred men died in the explosion. The truth, never certain, has yielded to the titular patterns of lies and accusations in a town still reeling from tragedy, all are looking for someone to blame, as Bess tries to figure out the truth.

My thoughts: A Pattern of Lies is darker and presents dangerous situations (aside from the war itself) than most books in this series. It's set in 1918, and as readers know, World War I is nearly over. I'm quite curious to see where the series goes beyond the war. But in A Pattern of Lies, the War remains an increasing source of pain and despair.

I liked A Pattern of Lies, but I didn't love it. Bess remains a fascinating, dynamic character, and I enjoyed the time I spent with her. I enjoyed the combination of time spent on the front and off. I enjoyed the insights into life and manners of the time. I found the mystery itself to drag at times, and when it ramped up at the end, I found it interesting, but the resolution wasn't nearly as interesting as the cultural commentary that preceded it. I was struck by the consistency of human nature one hundred years ago and today.

I'm continuously intrigued by the cast of recurring characters, and A Pattern of Lies was so focused on the Ashtons that the other characters had very minor roles. I hope to seem more of London, Somerset and, of course, Simon, in the next book. As a World War I novel, A Pattern of Lies succeeds, but I wanted more of Bess's world and less of the Ashtons' world.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 336 pages
Publication date: August 18, 2015
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy A Pattern of Lies from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Charles Todd's website and like them on Facebook.

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