Andrew Macrae's Reviews > A Bitter Truth

A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd
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Oct 17, 2011

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Read on October 17, 2011

Bess Crawford is an English army nurse traveling home to spend Christmas with her family in a brief respite from 1917 war-torn Europe. At least that was the plan before she encountered Lydia Ellis, a woman with a badly bruised face fleeing her husband.
This is the third novel featuring WWI British army nurse Bess Crawford and in it, the author weaves a complex tapestry of murder and betrayal out of an almost dizzying assortment of disparate threads. “A Bitter Truth” features a large cast of characters, locations ranging from London and the English countryside to the war’s front lines, port cities in England and France and enough murderous motives to daunt the most dedicated detective.
In Bess Crawford, the author has created a believable and satisfying heroine. She’s plucky and resourceful as one would expect, but she is also a product of her time and sensibilities. Part of the enjoyment of reading this novel is watching as Bess navigates her way as an independent woman in a male-run world.
Most of the story takes place in and around Vixen Hall, a bleak ancestral home in a dank and dismal part of Sussex. There, Bess finds herself a reluctant and mostly unwelcome guest of the Ellis family, an old and aristocratic family burdened by too many tragic deaths and unresolved secrets.
When a guest is found murdered Bess is caught up in the investigation. It is almost a welcome relief when she is finally free of the house and its family and back working amidst the horrors of trench warfare in a front line medical aid station in France.
But Bess has made a promise and feels duty-bound to keep it and scours the war-torn towns of France for a child who may or may not be real. Meanwhile, back in England, the murder investigation continues with deadly consequences.

Reviewed by Andrew MacRae for Suspense Magazine
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