A Duty to the Dead

A Duty to the Dead - Charles Todd Charles Todd (actually a mother-son writing pair) is one of those authors that I've had recommended me more times than I can count. I've finally tried this volume because the store's mystery book club has chosen it. I was not steered wrong by all those recommendations. Though my recent obsession with Downton Abbey likely did not hurt matters. Elizabeth (Bess) Crawford is a nurse in the Great War. When the hospital ship on which she is stationed, Britannic (sister to Titanic) strikes a mine and goes down off the Greek island of Key, Bess finds herself with the opportunity (along with a renewed sense of urgency) to deliver a final message from Arthur Graham. a solider who died under her care: "Tell my brother Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother's sake. But it has to be set right." However, when she does deliver the message, both Jonathan and Mrs. Graham seem determined to sweep the request under the rug, claiming ignorance. In the course of the book Todd touches on various forms of mental incapacitation: madness, shell shock, depression, and the developing mental state of the young and, given the nature of the mystery genre, the psychopathy (temporary or ingrained) of the murderer. The Bess Crawford mysteries are new compared to Todd's other series. The Ian Rutledge mysteries boasted twelve titles before the first Bess Crawford was released. Though they both are set in generally the same time period, the Ian Rutledge are post-war, and this first Bess Crawford opens in November 1916 -- well into the war. Which brings me back to my new fascination with Downton Abbey, which to my annoyance and delight, covers half-decades within a season. I would love to follow a character slowly from the beginning of the Great War to the end of it, which gives an undeserved sense of disappointment to this volume. Or perhaps that's a backhanded compliment in that it's just what I want, only started too late in history?