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

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  2,711 ratings  ·  375 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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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...more
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
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...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...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
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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

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...more
Kathleen S
Bess Crawford is a woman who does not give up. When she witnesses a disturbing scene involving a woman who is murdered a few hours later, she feels responsible. Bess considers herself an “impartial witness,” but she is far from impartial.

Bess is a nurse in the Great War, serving on the front in France. However, she seems to be on live an inordinate amount of time, allowing her time to investigate the murder that almost consumes her thoughts. In her investigation, she becomes embroiled in a web o...more
The second book in the Bess Crawford series was even better than the first, with a great plot and a natural, dramatic climax (not the stuck-on, "we have to put her in danger" melodramatic climax that you so often see in mysteries). A great read!
this series just keeps getting better!

Conundrum now - Library doesn't have the next one in right now - do I spend the money on Kindle? I'm far enuf in that I must go from one to the next from this point on OR OR OR do I read another o the 9 books I just checked out of the library the other day and BE PATIENT!?

I do have the newest Sue Mille THE ARSONIST, a Barbara Taylor Bradford-second in series or another author i like.

BUT I also have the next Bess Carwford Myster after the one I couldn't find...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
So far, this book is great... Got me from the first pages. Can't wait to go to May book club having actually read the book!
Love the Charles Todd series (both of them)...and I guess I just have to get used to the sloooooow and deliberate pace of the authors as they unfold each minute detail of the solution. This one seemed more convoluted than most...the final resolution was actually more of an epilogue, and the "solve" seemed tortuously slow in coming. Bless this writing team, but it wouldn't hurt to pick up the pace just a bit. And while I'm on a quiet rant, I wish the endings weren't so abrupt. If it t...more
Rosalyn Landor's narration of An Impartial Witness was quite nice to listen to, and she is a talented narrator. Unfortunately, I didn't care for this Bess Crawford mystery as much as I did for A Duty to the Dead.

There were still a lot of side-effect-of-war issues discussed in this book, and I really like this series for the smart, thoughtful, and serious way in which those issues are integrated into the stories. In this mystery, though, I felt that the authors didn't do as neat of a job of makin...more
I haven't read a good mystery in a long time. For a change I picked this book as one of my Amazon Vine selections. This is the second of the author's new series. The amateur sleuth here is Bess Crawford. Bess is a very compassionate nurse who works very close to the front lines during WWI. One of the soldiers she was treating held his wife's photo near him at all times. When Bess is on leave she witnesses this soldiers wife very upset in what seems to be a compromising position. When the soldier...more
Pmalcpoet Pat Malcolm
The minute I see a new Charles Todd mystery at my local library, I snatch it from the shelves and check it out. The author writes authentic period mysteries: the Ian Rutledge series is set in England during the post-WWI era, and the new Bess Crawford series takes place during the war itself. This book is the second featuring Bess, who is a nursing sister at the front in France. Bess has escorted a group of patients home to England, one of whom, a burn victim, she has nursed for some time. He has...more
At a train station while on a short leave, WWI nurse Bess Crawford witnesses a tearful encounter between a woman and a soldier. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but Bess recognizes the woman as the much beloved wife of a soldier she recently nursed, and the man she's with is not her husband. Their farewell isn't so much a farewell as the end of a confrontation, and Bess can neither parse the ambiguous emotions being exchanged nor intervene as the man gets on the train and the woman leaves.

If anyone ever asks me what literary character I would most want to be – I will say that I want to be Bess Crawford!! She is so independent for the time period – she really doesn’t need men to support her – though men seem to always be helping her out of one scrape or another. She is brave and strong and speaks her mind with no care as to what people will think. Of course, she does meddle into other people’s business, but that is very endearing and solves a mystery - so keep meddling Bess. Every...more
Kathleen Hagen
An Impartial Witness, by Charles Todd, B-plus, narrated by Rosalind Landor, produced by BBC America Audio, downloaded from

The second in the WWI nurse Bess Crawford series. In this one, Bess cares for a soldier in France on the battle front who is gravely wounded but keeps a picture of his wife pinned to his clothes to remind himself why he should live. When Bess goes on leave, just as she is getting off the train in London, she sees a group of troops boarding on their way to war. Sh...more
Beth Cato
This is the third book in the series that I have read, though I've done so out of order: book 1, 4, and then 2. It turned out this didn't matter in the least, as all the books completely stand on their own.

As I've noted before, I have read the books for research purposes. Fiction on World War I can be more enlightening about every day behaviors than nonfiction books. I found An Impartial Witness to be the most solid of the three, but it still frustrates me on several levels.

Foremost, the series...more
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
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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...
A Duty To The Dead (Bess Crawford, #1) A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #1) Wings of Fire (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #2) A Lonely Death (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #13) Legacy of the Dead (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #4)

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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.” 0 likes
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