A Duty to the Dead is a Bess Crawford mystery. The author, Charles Todd, is a mother and son writing team who have also written the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries. This is the first novel I have read by Charles Todd.
I really liked this mystery. It’s a historical, and it takes place during WWI. Bess Crawford is a nurse, serving on the Britannic. Before reading this book I had not really heard of the Britannic. If you also haven’t, it is the sister ship of the Titanic. It was still being built when Titanic sank, and they were able to make some improvements that were supposed to prevent Britannic from sinking.
Part of the impetus of the book is the sinking of the Britannic. The first-hand telling by Bess Crawford is riveting. It did make me wonder how historically accurate the account was. It turns out that it was very accurate. By chance I saw a documentary on the History Channel about the Britannic a few days ago. Their account of the sinking was essentially the same as A Duty to the Dead’s. One interesting point from the documentary pointed out that the Britannic actually sank faster than Titanic, in spite of the improvements.
I digress from the story at hand, however. Bess had made a promise to a dying patient that she would carry a message to his brother. She had put off this duty once already, but after needing to spend time in England to recuperate from her injuries sustained in the sinking of the Britannic, she decides to discharge this duty and visit her patient’s family.
Bess passes along her message, but something about the way it was received did not sit right with her. She decides she must dig a little deeper into the meaning of the message to ensure that it is going to be carried out. Bess also meets several people in the little village, the new doctor is one of her greatest allies in her sleuthing.
This book definitely digs up some family skeletons, and a well-plotted mystery. It also was a vivid vision of life in England during WWI. Bess is a very likable character. I really enjoy her and her voice and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. I’m going to give A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd, 1 bookmark.