In A Duty to the Dead, World War I is heavily underway as Bess Crawford
sails along dangerous seas, caring for the sick on the one-time luxury liner Britannic. It is 1916, and her duties as nurse to the dying sons of war
take a heavy toll on her heart. In a few moments of unexpected fear and startling clarity, Bess
realizes that her duty to the dead has not yet been satisfied.
Temporarily off-duty while recovering from her own wounds, Bess has the time and need to fulfill the last request of a soldier who died in her care. Her attraction to the soldier
was sincere and perhaps deeper than it should have been given the situation; however, leaving the request unattended
does not rest well with her. When the soldier’s family agrees to have her as a guest for a few days, Bess soon finds herself in a situation both mysterious and disconcerting.
Death becomes a frequent and cruel visitor among the small town of Owlhurst where Bess has come to deliver the soldier’s message. Her hosts are odd, unwelcoming characters whose suspicious behaviors trigger Bess’s inquisitive nature. When a long-lost brother is brought from the local asylum with a severe case of pneumonia, death is expected—and greedily hoped for—by the family. In her care of this latest patient, a mystery with disturbing implications begins to take shape.
Suspense increases when Bess is forced into a the extraordinarily compromising situation of aiding a known killer and risking her life. She must stir up the hornets’ nest to ferret out information that may not exist and, in the process, becomes the hunted herself. Bess’s intuition has never failed her before, and she knows a frightful solution to this mystery is within her grasp. Justice is at the heart of it all, and Bess will see it served for the sake of her
lost soldier and his dying wish.
Charles Todd is a mother-and-son writing team who have been stirring up notice and praise for their novels. As is the case with A Duty to the Dead,
Todd favors historical British settings and characters, weaving thrilling mysteries
by utilizing good old-fashioned deductive reasoning—a very Agatha Christie mode of writing.
Young sleuth Bess Crawforddebuts in this series of Todd’s writings, and while
she is a very fine protagonist; the infamous Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are, as of yet, incomparable.