06 September 2009

A Duty to the Dead; Charles Todd

A Duty to the Dead A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very atmospheric mystery set in WWI England - Elizabeth Crawford is a nurse serving on the Britannic when it is hit by a mine and sinks. She survives with a broken arm and is sent home to recuperate. There, she decides to finally fulfill her deathbed promise to Arthur Graham, a lieutenant she nursed. While at the Graham house, she starts to become involved with the family and realizes that their Deep, Dark Secret (that the oldest, Peregrine, murdered woman when he was 14 and is now in an asylum) might be just that little bit more.

When she returns to London, it appears that Peregrine has escaped and followed her. Together, they set out learn the truth behind the murder and his nightmares (ok, at first she's not all that eager to help but a pistol does go a long way to persuade someone!). What's interesting is not the actual sleuthing but the evocation of that era and of what "shell shock" is (and how it can be manufactured in innocent people).

I particularly liked how Bess' feelings for Arthur change over the course of the book, and yet the expected ending doesn't occur. That little twist lifted the book for me from a 3 to a 4.

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