Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Bitter Truth, by Charles Todd

Among the several parent-child mystery-writing teams currently producing, Charles Todd is one of my favorites.  It is a mother and son team, unclear how they have divided the work but their novels are entertaining, if rather bland.  They are working on two series, both set during World War I in Britain: Ian Rutledge is one detective, a shell-shocked officer haunted by one of his men; the other, which I prefer, is the series featuring Bess Crawford, a nursing sister.
In A Bitter Truth, Bess, home on a brief holiday leave, finds a woman in distress on her doorstep and takes her in.  As a result she is gathered into the web of secrets in a large unhappy family, whose problems include the death of a beautiful young daughter several years previously. Bess tries to help her new friend untangle some misundestandings, but their efforts are complicated by a couple of murders.
It's a leisurely read, and not a violent book by any means.  Bess herself seems rather wooden, but I find the setting interesting, the background believable, and the stories a nice relief from more demanding fiction. I'm pretty fed up with Ian Rutledge, though, so it is only the Bess Crawford thread that I'll be continuing to read.


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