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An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford, #2)
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An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford #2)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  4,406 ratings  ·  469 reviews

“Todd’s novels are known for compelling plotting with a thoughtful whodunit aspect, rich characterization, evocative prose, and haunting atmosphere.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Readers who can’t get enough of [Jacqueline Winspear’s] Maisie Dobbs…are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford.”
New York Times Book Review

To great critical acclaim, author Charles T

Kindle Edition, 356 pages
Published (first published August 31st 2010)
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An Impartial Witness is the sequel to A duty to the Dead and I was eager to read this book since this series has become a favorite of mine.

It's the early summer of 1917 and Bess Crawford is returning home from the trenches of France with a convoy of wounded men. One of the patient is Lt. Meriwether Evanson, a pilot who has been burned beyond recognition and he clings to life much thanks to his wife Marjorie whose picture he has pinned to his tunic. But Bess notices a woman on a London train stat
I'm having a little trouble with the conceit of this series. A young woman goes around asking questions that are none of her business of people, who are sometimes hostile to the investigation, who answer those questions even aginst their own interests. I don't recall that other mystery series I read centered around amateur sleuths have protagonists who are quite this confrontational. And it seems odd to me that in World War I, when supplies, especially petrol, would have been in short supply, th ...more
Maureen E
I started Maisie Dobbs, but the library I'm at the most doesn't have the second book. I remembered that Jess had recommended the Bess Crawford books recently, so I picked up the first one.

In general, I like historical mysteries, so these two had that going for them from the beginning. Also, I've been a bit passionate about WWI since high school, when we read the war poets.

The Bess Crawford books, so far, take place during the war rather than after it (as with Maisie Dobbs). This fact adds a sen
I liked this one so much better than the first one - glad I went ahead and read it after my disappointment with the beginning of the series. With this story she sees a woman on a train platform crying and despondent while talking to a man that is not her husband. Bess knows this for she has been nursing the husband through injuries suffered in WWI. When the woman is murdered Bess does her duty and goes to the police to report what she's seen. I do find the reasons she gets involved in the invest ...more
I've been reading a fair amount about World War I in the past several months, everything from All Quiet on the Western Front to John Keegan's The First World War (which I'm finding slow going and haven't finished yet). I've also watched some films such as A Farewell to Arms (with Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes) and Passchendaele, and of course I've continued to read some of the mysteries set in WWI and its aftermath, by authors such as Jacqueline Winspear, Carola Dunn, Anne Perry, and not least, th ...more
Bess Crawford is a nursing sister in World War I and stationed in France. When the book begins it is the summer of 1917 and she is transporting wounded soldiers back to London. Amongst these soldiers is a burned pilot named Lt. Meriweather Evanson. Pinned to his lapel jacket is a photograph of his wife Marjorie Evanson. Bess is given a 36 hour pass in London before going back to France. At the train station she sees a woman saying goodbye to a soldier. This woman looks exactly like the woman in ...more
World War I nurse Bess Crawford is back in England, doggedly figuring out who murdered the wife of one of her badly-injured patients. Spending less time in France on the battlefield and more time with those remaining at home, this second-in-the-series novel evolves into the gentle form of the classic English murder mystery.

Among the intriguing continuing bits in the series are the references to the Crawford family's time spent in India. Please take Bess back there in a future book. Her father's
First Sentence: As my train pulled into London, I looked out at the early summer rain and was glad to see the dreary day had followed me from Hampshire.

WWI battlefield nurse Bess Crawford cared for a badly burned young pilot who had a picture of his wife visibly displayed. In a train station traveling on leave back to London, Bess happens to see the wife who is clearly upset as she sees off a different soldier. Although somewhat perplexed by the scene, it is nothing to the shock Bess feels when
I like Bess Crawford, the spunky English nurse in this series. She has a bit of Nancy Drew in her without the little red car. This is number two in the series and I wasn't disappointed in the book. I like Bess's family and how her mother can help her with 'introductions' so she is able to go to house parties to find clues about the murder she is investigating. WWI remains in the background, but like the first book, Bess is involved in this 'killing' because of a former patient. Bringing the woun ...more
Bryan Higgs
This is the second in the Bess Crawford series, and based on the two I've read so far, they certainly pull you in. One problem I have is that the main character, Bess, seems to make too much out of the things she finds out, or comes across (many -- perhaps too many -- coincidentally). The result is rather complex, and the reader (at least this one) isn't clear how much Bess is assuming is actually valid. Of course, she succeeds in the end, but one gets a rather fuzzy feeling about what happened ...more
This second book of the series was better than the first, a compelling mystery, set during World War I with Bess aiding a murder investigation and trying to keep the wrong man from the gallows, but I have to admit I still like the Inspector Rutledge series better. Bess is still a fun character for an amateur sleuth and I will probably read the rest of the books in this series because that's how I roll, in for a penny, in for a pound. Recommended for anyone else obsessed with World War I, histori ...more
I didn't like it, but i didn't hate it either, so I didn't feel able to give it a single star.

For me, the problem with this book is that I just didn't care. I didn't like any of the characters (to the extent that they're even developed), and I didn't care abut the plot, which had nothing new to offer. Bess is an arrogant brat: her interference is explained to the reader as an over-developed sense of duty (blamed on her military father), but for me it just comes across as arrogance. Bess "must" i
I like a story where you feel like you're inhabiting the same world as the characters. You find it hard to draw yourself away and look forward to getting back into it as soon as you can. It's an added bonus when the book is one in a series of mysteries revolving around a set of characters that can be revisited, and in the hands of a talented author the characters grow and mature and the world takes on more details with each new instalment. Aside from the puzzle aspect, I think that is a large pa ...more
Bess Crawford escorts a number of injured soldiers back from the front in France, during WWI. One of the men is a badly burned pilot who has a photo of his wife taped to his chest, as though she is his reason to go on living.

After delivering the patients to the clinic, she is given leave and at a train station sees a woman bidding a tearful goodbye to a soldier going to the front. When the woman turns, Bess realizes that it is Marjorie Evanson, the pilot's wife. Bess feels badly that the pilot i
This is my second Bess Crawford novel after having previously read a Duty to the Dead. In this novel we find Bess involving herself in other people affairs when she nurses a badly burned pilot who carries his wife's picture on his person. Shortly after returning to England, Bess witnesses the wife and a possible lover having an interlude at the train station. The pilot dies and his wife is murdered shortly after leaving Bess hell bent on getting to the bottom of things. Several other people are ...more
I liked this book even better than the first one in the series. Set in the early 1900s, this is such a different murder mystery experience than my usual reads. There are no fingerprints to test, ballistics to match, and of course no DNA evidence. There are also much looser roles for the cops and the rules we know about sharing confidential information are thrown completely out the window. It's all about who you know and your status that opens doors and loosens lips. Bess reminds me a bit of my m ...more
Written by a mother-son team, I find this book moderately interesting. The plotting is good though it relies somewhat on coincidence. It is the characters I find uninvolving, especially the perfect father and his number two. But this is only the second book in the series and hopefully the pace will pick up as I find it slow moving.
WWI nurse Bess Crawford has just accompanied a badly burned soldier back to England. He has repeatedly shown her a photo of his wife, and it's been clear that the thought of his wife has been the only thing that has kept him alive. When Bess arrives in London after leaving the soldier at a convalescent hospital she is confronted by the scene of the soldier's wife tearfully bidding another soldier farewell. While the scene disturbs her, she is inclined to forget it, except that she can't. She soo ...more
Second entry in the Bess Crawford series. Perhaps a little long, and Bess does sometimes jump to conclusions with minimal information. But Rosalyn Landor's narration is first rate. Had to remind myself this book didn't have multiple narrators...just Landor doing remarkable things with her voice!
This is the last book I will read in this series by Charles Todd. I enjoy his style of writing, the environment in which the books are set, and the speed and flow of his stories. I know very little about England during World War 1 and afterwards so I enjoyed the background of each plot.
What I am finished with is the heroine of this series. She is pushy. She disregards the needs and concerns of others. She is always talking about how important the truth is above all else. Not true. Most import
Certainly one of the best Bess Crawford books that the Todds have written. Enjoyed this one from start to finish so it went way too fast. That's the problem with the ones I can't put down. But, I guess it's a good problem. Definitely recommend this one.
Quick read. I know the authors are actually from the US but the characters sound so...American, except when they are weirdly and randomly very formal and stilted ("I may call you Elizabeth, may I not?"). Also, it is odd that everyone (her parents, the police, suspects) allow Bess to go about investigating and being extremely nosy even though she has absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. As an army nurse on leave, it's hard to believe she had nothing better to do then traipse around solving th ...more
Kathy Davie
I found this one more believable than his first. I really like how well Todd conveys the feel of England in the first World War. He brings out the style and mores as well as the privation suffered by the English although it has a softness to it. Although I am rather surprised at how much driving around Bess does when supposedly petrol is in short supply.

I'm also curious as to what might happen between Bess and's a possibility. In the meantime, it's interesting to watch Bess detect wit
A new kind of detective: challenging the constraints of England on the cusp of great change, emboldened by years lived abroad as her father served the Empire. It was a different world of medicine, of society and its constraints, of rural/urban living, of transport, of detection, of war ... all marvelously written. What would one do when witnessing a passionate, yet sober, display of emotions in a very public space? I doubt that many of us would have the courage to report it, and pursue it, and p ...more
Inquisitive Bess Crawford, the adventurous WWI battlefield nurse introduced in A Duty to the Dead, returns as witness to an emotional scene between a soldier boarding a train and his distraught lady love. Or is it? When the lady turns up dead a few hours later, Bess finds herself racing throughout the English countryside, London and the battle scarred fields of France in search of her killer. Can she solve this latest murder mystery in time to save embittered soldier, Michael Hart from the gallo ...more
An Impartial Witness is the second book in the Bess Crawford mystery series by Charles Todd. I love that the series is set during World War I; An Impartial Witness is set in 1917. Bess Crawford is a nurse, and, she's nursing wounded soldiers both abroad and at home. (Bess spends a good amount of time in this novel in France, very close to the front.)

The book opens with Bess arriving in London on leave for thirty-six hours. She's just spent time on a convoy with a wounded soldier--a pilot with s
Linda Smith
It is the summer of 1917. England stands almost alone against the Triple Alliance, with Germany as its central power. America’s war machine is grinding gears, and British soldiers are paying the price.

Bess Crawford, a young field nurse, is often within harm's way, caring for the wounded and dying as the ground shakes with artillery fire and camps are strafed by German pilots. As she accompanies the wounded and dying home to England, she becomes an unwitting witness to the last moments of a distr
This the 4th Bess Crawford book I've read and even though I'm not quite finished, I expect it will follow the same formula as the others: Bess finds herself on the fringes of a mysterious situation and simply cannot resist self-righteously meddling when she should properly be minding her own business. She is indulged in her busybody behavior by her parents and her dear friend Simon, who repeatedly try to rein her in but are unable to really say No to her at all. She hops in her motorcar for exte ...more

Bess Crawford, a nurse in the WW I front in France, has returned to England accompanying an aircraft pilot who crashed in France and is terribly burned. During his terrible ordeal, he has held on to a photo of his pretty young wife. His deep love for her has given him hope and the strength to keep on living during his long covalence and he is eager to be reunited with her. Right after delivering the pilot to long-term care back in England, Bess is waiting at the train station to go home when she
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Charles Todd is the pen name used by a mother-and-son writing team, Caroline Todd and Charles Todd.
More about Charles Todd...

Other Books in the Series

Bess Crawford (7 books)
  • A Duty To The Dead (Bess Crawford, #1)
  • A Bitter Truth (Bess Crawford, #3)
  • An Unmarked Grave (Bess Crawford, #4)
  • A Question of Honor (Bess Crawford, #5)
  • An Unwilling Accomplice (Bess Crawford, #6)
  • A Pattern of Lies (Bess Crawford, #7)

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“Gallantry,” he often told his men, “is an act of great courage under fire, of bravery beyond the call of duty. But if it kills your comrades as well or puts the battle in jeopardy, then it is arrant pride and foolishness. Learn to know the difference.” 1 likes
“mother’s eyes widen” 0 likes
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