The Bess Crawford series, in which this is the latest entry, takes place during World War I, with Bess serving as a nurse in France, but usually getting involved in all sorts of crimes, including murder.
The rest of the book finds Bess, after recovering from her illness, shuttling back to the front and then returning to England in search of the killer. Of course, there are the Colonel’s mysterious capabilities and super-human contacts within the British establishment which are never disclosed, as well as the abilities of his sergeant-major, Simon Brandon, which permeate the novel, as well as Bess always finding just the right help, be it a person, automobile or telephone, just in the nick of time to make the reader scratch his or her head. And too often, coincidences arise along the way.
Nevertheless, as in previous books in the series, the battlefield descriptions, the medical efforts to save the wounded and the effects of the conflict on both military and civilians are excellent. Perhaps the plotting is over-developed, but that is typical of this mother-son
writing team, which pays great attention to detail. Characters are well-drawn but the conclusion is sort of forced. Over all, though, the novel reads well, and is recommended.
Reviewer: Ted Feit
Charles’s love of history led him to a study of some of the wars that shape it: the American Civil War, WWI and WWII. He enjoys all things nautical, has an international collection of seashells and has sailed most of his life. Golf is still a hobby that can be both friend and foe. And sports in general are enthusiasms. Charles had a career as a business consultant. This experience gave him an understanding of going to troubled places where no one was glad to see him arrive. This was excellent training for Rutledge’s reception as he tries to find a killer in spite of local resistance.
Caroline has always been a great reader and enjoyed reading aloud, especially poetry that told a story. The Highwayman was one of her early favorites. Her wars are World War 1, the Boer War, and the English Civil War, with a sneaking appreciation of the Wars of the Roses as well. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling the world, gardening or painting in oils. Her background in international affairs backs up her interest in world events, and she’s also a sports fan, an enthusiastic follower of her favorite teams in baseball and pro football. She loves the sea but is a poor sailor—Charles inherited his iron stomach from his father. Still, she has never met a beach she didn’t like.
Writing together is a challenge, and both enjoy giving the other a hard time. The famous quote is that in revenge, Charles crashes Caroline’s computer, and Caroline crashes his parties. Will they survive to write more novels together?