Duty to the Dead: 1 Paperback – 22 October 2010
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- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0061791776
- ISBN-13 : 978-0061791772
- Dimensions : 2.54 x 13.46 x 20.07 cm
- Publisher : HarperCollins - US; Reprint edition (22 October 2010)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: 676,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"Anyone who cares to loll in early-20th century English villages and mores and follow a plucky heroine as she confronts the stupidity of war will find solace in this old-fashioned mystery."--Kirkus Reviews
"Todd employs all the elements of a satisfying cozy mystery, with an absorbing plot and a charismatic heroine that will leave the reader wanting more."--Library Journal
"Winning....Fans of independent women sleuths like Maisie Dobbs will welcome this new addition to their ranks."--Publishers Weekly
"Readers who can't get enough of Maisie Dobbs, the intrepid World War I battlefield nurse in Jacqueline Winspear's novels, or Hester Latterly, who saw action in the Crimean War in a series of novels by Anne Perry, are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford."--New York Times Book Review
"A compelling story, a complex mystery and a revealing look deep into human nature."--Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
"A tense psychological drama, steeped in the tragedy of the Great War."--Iron Mountain Daily (Michigan)
"A Duty to the Dead has all the elements of a good mystery--action, suspense, murder, love, a damsel in distress."--Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
"An absorbing story that will not disappoint Todd's fans."--Contra Costa Times on A Duty to the Dead
"Full of rich historical details, this novel contrasts the beauty of the English countryside with the horrors of a war that devastated families....Absorbing."--Romantic Times
From the Back Cover
Dedicated to helping the many wounded during the Great War, Bess Crawford receives a desperate request from a dying lieutenant while serving as a nurse aboard a hospital ship. Tell my brother Jonathan that I lied, the young man says. I did it for Mother's sake. But it has to be set right.
Back home in England, Bess receives an unexpected response from the dead soldier's family, for neither Jonathan Graham' his mother' nor his younger brother admit to understanding what the message means.
But the Grahams are harboring a grim secret, and Bess must, somehow, get to the bottom of it. It is her sacred duty to the dead, no matter how painful, or dangerous, that obligation might be.
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Bess, a nursing sister (WW1) returns to England after her hospital ship is sunk. She is recovering from a broken arm and while on sick leave takes the opportunity to visit the family of an officer who died whilst under her care. Before dying, this officer entrusted her with a very important message to one of his brothers, and the delivery of this message becomes a sacred duty for Bess. As the story unfolds she spends her time between London and parts of the South East saving lives, following up clues, hunting for witnesses and trying to put right the effects of a great injustice.
Overall, the plot is too busy, and seems to have been written with an eye to fast camera work- shifts between scenes- small pieces of the truth being revealed - onto the next location for the next revelation. Characters are uneven. We get unnecessary details about some minor characters, but major characters are left half drawn and their actions/motivation seem unreal or contrived.
The main male character, Peregrine, is completely unbelievable. For some reason, he was not loved by his mother, was considered to be educationally subnormal as a child, kept separate from his siblings, was prone to fits of violence, murdered a young servant, was incarcerated in a lunatic asylum- the list goes on. As the story rattles on, we find that his family has conspired against him so that he only APPEARS to have been these things. In fact, after years kept isolated and sedated in the asylum, he manages to trace our heroine by reading her address from an envelope, outwits his doctor, escapes from the asylum and tracks her to her digs in London (where he successfully evades the eagle-eyed landlady)!
Minor irritations such as an Edwardian child remembering eating "milk and cookies", the use of the Americanese "gotten" and "I could use" only serve to add to the general feeling that this is not a well-crafted book. In another writer's hands It could probably be the basis for a mini-series on t.v. or a film, but as it stands, this book just isn't well-written enough to deliver a satisfying story.