• Hardcover: 336 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (August 18, 2015)
Bess Crawford must keep a deadly pattern of lies from destroying an innocent family in this compelling and atmospheric mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of A Question of Honor and An Unwilling Accomplice
In 1916, at the height of the war, an explosion and fire at an armament factory in Kent killed more than a hundred men. With Ashton Powder Mill situated so close to the coast—within reach of German saboteurs—the Army investigated, eventually ruling the event an appalling tragedy. Now, two years later, suspicion, gossip, and rumor have raised the specter of murder—and fingers point to the owner, Philip Ashton, whose son is battlefield nurse Bess Crawford’s friend and former patient.
While visiting the Ashtons, Bess finds herself caught up in a venomous show of hostility that doesn’t stop with Philip Ashton’s arrest. Indeed, someone is out for blood, and the household is all but under siege. The police are hostile—the Inspector’s brother died in the mill explosion—and refuse to consult either the Army or Scotland Yard. Why, after two years, has the village turned against Ashton?
In France, Bess searches for the only known witness to the explosion, now serving at the Front, and tries to convince him to give evidence about that terrible Sunday morning, only to find herself and the witness hunted by someone intent on preventing anyone from discovering what—or who—is behind this web of vicious lies. Uncertain whom to trust, she can rely only on her own wits and courage, but how can she stop a killer whose face she has never seen?
Philip Ashton is urged to throw himself on the mercy of the court—where he will surely find none. Time is running out. And Bess, at the point of a gun, has only one choice left: to risk her life to save the Ashtons.
Buy, read, and discuss A Pattern of Lies
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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Bess Armstrong is back and better than before in this novel which was a great adventure for the former battlefield nurse. I loved that this story, like the last, blended her compassionate side, the one that seeks to provide solace and care – with her ability to be completely ruthless when she needs to be.
Having read this novel immediately after the last one, and then set it aside without writing the review immediately, some elements are muddled but I liked that Bess’s former patient Philip Ashton is central to this story, and I like that it was about responsibility and choice as much as it was about Nazi spies and war crimes. The entity known as Charles Todd is really good at bringing dierse elements into a story, giving us something that appeals to our contemporary sound-bite focused brains while still retaining the feel and language of a period piece.
I mentioned that Bess is one of my new favorite fictional characters. She has only increased her merit in this novel. Go read it, because nothing that I say can top the experience of this brilliantly crafted, well plotted, gripping novel.
Goes well with a crisp lager and a really good chicken curry.
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