• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 5, 2015)
In this absorbing and atmospheric historical mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford’s career and life are in jeopardy when a murder is committed on her watch
Bess Crawford has been summoned by the War Office to accompany a wounded soldier from Shropshire to Buckingham Palace, where he’s to be decorated for gallantry by King George himself.
Heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair, Sergeant Jason Wilkins will be in her care for barely a day. But on the morning after the ceremony when Bess goes to collect her charge for his return journey, she finds the room empty. How could such a severely wounded man vanish without a trace?
Both the Army and the Nursing Service hold Bess to blame for losing the war hero. The Army now considers Wilkins a deserter, and Scotland Yard questions Bess when Wilkins is suspected of killing a man in cold blood. If Bess is to clear her name and return to duty in France, she must prove that she was never his accomplice. But the sergeant has disappeared again and neither the Army nor the police can find him.
Following a trail of clues across England, Bess is drawn into a mystery that seems to grow darker with every discovery. But will uncovering the truth put more innocent people in jeopardy?
Buy, read, and discuss An Unwilling Accomplice
Charles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina.
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The Bess Crawford series may be my new favorite historical mystery series, though I say this having only just finished book one, and not yet started book two, which I’m reviewing in August.
Timed perfectly for those of us who are hooked on The Crimson Field (airing on PBS now, it aired in the UK last year), this novel blends historical accuracy with a gripping mystery, and ties everything us with a truly interesting and engaging lead character.
In Bess Crawford, Todd has created a female lead who feels appropriate for her time, but is still completely relatable to contemporary readers. She is smart, resourceful, and interesting, but she’s also very real, and her flaws only make her seem more so.
I really liked the blend of military and civilian characters, but I also appreciated that even in a story that’s pretty serious, there was room for small touches of humor. Not ha-ha laugh-inducing jokes, but small moments drawn from life. Those touches are what makes a novel sing and this novel truly does.
I’ve been a fan of Todd’s other detective series for a while now, but Bess Crawford has supplanted Ian Rutledge in my heart.
Goes well with a proper English tea.
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