On leave from France and trying to get to her parents home, field nurse Bess Crawford runs into a former patient, Mark Ashton. Due to a train delay, Bess, is pleased to visit his family. On the way, Bess learns about mill tragedy that killed over a hundred men, and a town that blames Mark’s father who is arrested while Bess is there. Being unable to travel on, Bess stays to comfort Mark’s family and do whatever she can to unravel the lies and learn the truth.
Bess Crawford is a very interesting character. She comes from wealth and position, which means she is well connected. Yes as true of many young women of her time in similar positions, she also answered the need of her country and is a WWI field hospital nurse, serving in France and often transporting seriously-wounded soldiers back to England. Because of this, she is independent, intelligent and self-reliant. As the daughter of a military man who served in India, she has learned to adapt to all types of people and situations.
Not only is Bess appealing, but there is Sgt. Major Simon Brandon, who originally served as her father’s batman and now serves in intelligence, and someone with whom one would like to see a relationship develop with Bess. Additionally, there is Sgt. Lassiter, the Aussie with the kookaburra greeting call and indomitable spirit. It is interesting how easily one can imagine the Aussie accent in his voice, just form the dialogue.
While the mysteries always tie into the war, they also stand on their own. Todd ensures you sense the emotional banishment of the family involved by the townspeople. They also provide an excellent example of the way in which rumors start and grow, eventually being thought to be the truth. And yet…”…its Man who caused such pain and loss. You can rage at man.” The clues are well established with some good suspense that even puts Bess in danger.
“A Pattern of Lies” is a well-done, traditional mystery with strong characters, a very good plot twist and a dramatic conclusion effectively set against the backdrop of life during WWI.
A PATTERN OF LIES (Hist Mys-Bess Crawford-England/France-1918) – G+
Todd, Charles – 7th in series
Wm. Morrow – Aug 2015