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

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  6,110 Ratings  ·  592 Reviews
Tending to the soldiers in the trenches of France during the First World War, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford is sent back to England in the early summer of 1917 with a convoy of severely burned men. One of her patients, a young pilot, has clung to a photograph of his wife since his plane went down, and Bess can’t help but notice the photo every time she tends to him. Afte ...more
Audiobook, Unabridged, 11 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by BBC Audiobooks America (first published August 31st 2010)
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Dennis Fischman I think you could read this one without having read the previous book. Nothing in the plot depends on previous events, and Todd reintroduces the…moreI think you could read this one without having read the previous book. Nothing in the plot depends on previous events, and Todd reintroduces the characters and settings smoothly.(less)
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Mar 04, 2011 Nell rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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 against 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, t ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
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 patients 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 sta
I think Bess and I are going to have to part ways. Mysteries were my first love starting with Nancy Drew then the Grande Dame of all, Agatha Christie, as well as Patricia Wentworth and more than a few American mystery writers: Elizabeth Peters, Margaret Maron, Louise Penny, Martha Grimes and the list goes on....

Unlike some contemporary fiction, with a mystery you have a beginning, a middle and an end as well as a resolution where justice is served. With Bess and her benign tolerance for victims
An Impartial Witness
3.5 Stars

Combat nurse Bess Crawford accompanies a convoy of wounded men home to England. While passing through a train station on her return to the front, she observes a young woman bidding a tearful farewell to a soldier and recognizes her as the wife of one of her patients. When the woman is later found murdered, Bess feels compelled to contact Scotland Yard and finds herself drawn into a convoluted case that may just end in the execution of an innocent man.

Although the pac
Jun 01, 2017 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this series, review lost in Shelfari Import
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
Apr 12, 2016 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, read-05-16
I've been on a historical-ish kick for the past few weeks and every non-historical book hasn't clicked the best with me. But now, I feel as if I can go back to contemporary books! This book was a very good sophomore in what seems to be an excellent series.

I loved the MC, Bess, she was everything I look for in a MC. I also liked that the author(s) featured more of Simon in this book. He's extremely mysterious and I'd love to learn more about him! Her parents were also wonderful. They gave her so
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Actually about a 3.5.
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
Dec 27, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Very well done. Rosalyn Landor narrated beautifully. The perfect stand-alone novel, in a series about a nurse, in the middle of WW1, embroiled in a murder mystery.
I really wanted to like this series but am giving up after only 2 books. It is not easy to put a finger on it, but there's definitely an ingredient missing.

The 2 stories I've read so far are rather formulaic but, most of all, I think my lassitude is because the characters are so flat. A heroine driven solely by a sense of duty, and becoming involved in murder investigations that have nothing to do with her (or only a very vague, contrived connection) is one thing. Quite another is the historica
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
Dec 17, 2012 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Kathy Davie
Dec 29, 2010 Kathy Davie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second in the Bess Crawford historical mystery series revolving around a battlefield nurse during World War I in 1917.

My Take
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 a
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
Aug 22, 2011 Ariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Catherine  Mustread
# 2 in the Bess Crawford series, but the third one that I have read and the series seems better with each book I read.  I especially like the British World War 1 atmosphere and Bess's efforts to make things right if she can.  In this case she starts out as an impartial witness to a scene which precedes a murder but quickly becomes partial when she thinks the wrong person has been apprehended.

As Bess says: "Murder was never kind. To the victims, depriving them of a natural span of life and happin
Apr 14, 2014 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
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
Jul 19, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 28, 2010 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bryan Higgs
Jan 09, 2015 Bryan Higgs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 25, 2012 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 02, 2011 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, fiction
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
Jul 17, 2015 Eleni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 03, 2010 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 15, 2010 Gwen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 (9 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)
  • The Shattered Tree (Bess Crawford, #8)
  • Casualty of War (Bess Crawford #9)

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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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