A Duty to the Dead: A Bess Crawford Mystery Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
When Bess arrives at the Graham house in Kent, Jonathan Graham listens to his brother's last wishes with surprising indifference. Neither his mother nor his brother Timothy seems to think it has any significance. Unsettled by this, Bess is about to take her leave when sudden tragedy envelops her.
She quickly discovers that fulfilling this duty to the dead has thrust her into a maelstrom of intrigue and murder that will endanger her own life and test her courage as not even war has.
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 49 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 02, 2009|
|Publisher||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #177,998 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#2,042 in Historical Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
#5,473 in Women Sleuth Mysteries
#10,379 in Historical Mystery
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2015
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1916 in the Mediterranean Bess Crawford and her fellow nurses are aboard the Britannic sailing toward their next posting. When the ship was hit by a mine or torpedo, panic ensues. The order is given to abandon ship and even though she sustained a broken arm, she aids the other nurses in boarding the lifeboats. Fortunately, they had no wounded aboard. Sadly they watched the Britannic go down.
Once back home in England, with her arm healing, she Bess recalls her promise made to a dying soldier, Arthur Graham. It is to tell his brother Jonathan that he lied to protect his mother and that Jonathan has to set it right. Arthur did not explain any further. Bess journeys to the Graham home and meets Jonathan, his brother and his mother. She and Jonathan go out to Arthur’s memorial and Bess tells him what his brother said. Jonathan seems both indifferent and unmoved by the message.
Peregrine, the eldest brother who has been confined to an asylum due to his young age when he was supposed to have murdered a woman has pneumonia. He is brought back to Owlhurst basically to die. None of his family wants anything to do with him, which Bess thinks is both odd and unkind. He is very ill by the time he gets there and doesn’t know where he is. She delays her going home so as to nurse him.
When a local man named Ted Booker who was suffering from shell shock killed himself, Bess gets a visit from Inspector Howard. Bess tended to the man during some of his episodes. Bess suspects that not all was as reported with the suicide, for Jonathan was very angry with Ted and reportedly went to see him shortly before he killed himself. Mrs. Denton, Ted’s mother-in-law was also very much against Ted.
At Ted’s inquest, the Graham family receives a distressing letter. Has Peregrine died? They hurry home. Bess is summarily packed up and told to leave. When she reaches her flat in London, she is startled to be awakened by Peregrine in her kitchen. She is frightened, for she still believes Peregrine to be a killer. Her belief begins to change.
In an exciting denouement, we finally learn the truth. Who did kill the young maid? Why?
This book is extremely well written and plotted. The tension in the story starts out immediately and continues. I appreciate the professionalism and compassion with which Bess carried out her duties. She is the very illustration of an excellent nurse, whether it was in 1916 or today. This book illustrates very well the effects shell shock has on the individual and the family. I must say that Bess’ psychological insights were very advanced for her day. I have read the Todd’s Inspector Ian Rutledge novels, but this is my first foray into the Bess Crawford series. I will most certainly continue to read them.
Top reviews from other countries
Bess, a nursing sister (WW1) returns to England after her hospital ship is sunk. She is recovering from a broken arm and while on sick leave takes the opportunity to visit the family of an officer who died whilst under her care. Before dying, this officer entrusted her with a very important message to one of his brothers, and the delivery of this message becomes a sacred duty for Bess. As the story unfolds she spends her time between London and parts of the South East saving lives, following up clues, hunting for witnesses and trying to put right the effects of a great injustice.
Overall, the plot is too busy, and seems to have been written with an eye to fast camera work- shifts between scenes- small pieces of the truth being revealed - onto the next location for the next revelation. Characters are uneven. We get unnecessary details about some minor characters, but major characters are left half drawn and their actions/motivation seem unreal or contrived.
The main male character, Peregrine, is completely unbelievable. For some reason, he was not loved by his mother, was considered to be educationally subnormal as a child, kept separate from his siblings, was prone to fits of violence, murdered a young servant, was incarcerated in a lunatic asylum- the list goes on. As the story rattles on, we find that his family has conspired against him so that he only APPEARS to have been these things. In fact, after years kept isolated and sedated in the asylum, he manages to trace our heroine by reading her address from an envelope, outwits his doctor, escapes from the asylum and tracks her to her digs in London (where he successfully evades the eagle-eyed landlady)!
Minor irritations such as an Edwardian child remembering eating "milk and cookies", the use of the Americanese "gotten" and "I could use" only serve to add to the general feeling that this is not a well-crafted book. In another writer's hands It could probably be the basis for a mini-series on t.v. or a film, but as it stands, this book just isn't well-written enough to deliver a satisfying story.