Saturday, January 10, 2015

An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd

First Sentence:  I stopped just outside the ward and leaned my head against the cool wood of the doorframe.
WWI is raging but it is influenza that battlefield nurse, Bess Crawford, and others which is killing off soldiers.  In the midst of the dead is a man whose death isn’t from either war or illness; he’s been murdered and Bess recognizes him.  Those who’ve seen the body start to die in ways that seem natural.  Before Bess can do anything, she also succumbs to the flu and is sent back to England, but that doesn’t stop her determination to find out who killed the man and why.
The story begins with a powerful and effective opening relating to the impact of the influenza epidemic in the midst of war.  What sets the Todds apart is the ability to describe an horrific scene, conveying all the impact, but without going into graphic detail.  By contrast, you truly can feel the love and caring that Bess and her family have for one another.  It’s also nice to see the progression, albeit very slow progression, of the relationship between Bess and Simon, her father’s bagman.
There is a large collection of characters, but they weren’t confusing.  The Todds have truly captured the dedication of the war-time nurses and the contrast of their lives from being on the battlefield and when they return to England, remember that most of the nurses came from the upper classes           
An Unmarked Grave” may be the best in the series, so far.  There is drama, intensity and some excellent red herrings. 

AN UNMARKED GRAVE (Hist Mys-Bess Crawford-France/England-1918) – VG+
Todd, Charles – 4th in series
William Morrow, June 2012 

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