Kathleen (Kat) Smith's Reviews > An Unmarked Grave

An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
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France, Spring, 1918

I stopped just outside the ward and leaned my head against the cool wood of the doorframe. I couldn't remember when last I'd slept, or, for that matter, eaten anything more than a few biscuits now and again with a hasty cup of tea.

The Spanish Influenza had already cut down three of our nursing sisters, and two doctors were not expected to live through the night. The rest of us were struggling to keep men alive in the crowded wards and losing the battle hourly. Depressing to watch the bodies being carried out, one more soldier lost to an enemy we couldn't even see.

It was an insidious killer, this influenza. I'd watched men in the best of healthy in the afternoon gasping for breath by the next morning, tossing with fever, lying too ill to speak, then fighting to draw a next breath. I'd watched nurses and orderlies work with patients for days on end without showing a single sign of illness, only to collapse unexpectedly and join the ranks of the dying. The young were particularly vulnerable. On the other hand, Private Wilson, close to forty, seemed to be spared, even though he handled the dead, gently wrapping them in their soiled sheets and carrying them out to await interment. The shed just beyond the wards was filled with bodies, sometimes tacked like lumber. The burial details couldn't keep up. And those men too were dying. (pg 1-2).

In the latest novel from Charles Todd, An Unmarked Grave takes readers back to the chilling period of time as WW1 was just beginning while the Spanish Influenza was taking lives faster than the war wounded. Some wondered if there would be anyone left to fight the war. As Private Wilson is taking count of the bodies in the shed, separating the war dead from those that the illness had claimed, he noticed one extra body.

Taking care to avoid any extra attention he notifies, Nurse Bess Crawford to follow him to the shed. When he shows her the extra body, she realizes who it is. Major Vincent Carlson, and the wounds on his body are neither from the war or from the illness. He has been murdered.

When she attempts to contact Matron, the head nurse in charge of the facility, Bess herself finds she has succumbed to the Spanish Influenza as well and before she is able to tell anyone, she faints into a fever that may take her very life. Nurse Bess Crawford does recover but she begins to wonder if the body she discovered was a dream or did it really happen. All she knows is she needs to get better as soon as she can and begin to uncover what could be a murder, but how will she find the body of the Major in an unmarked grave?

I received An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd compliments of TLC Book Tours and William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. After reading previous novels by Charles Todd a year ago, I feel in love with his unique ability to draw the reader into his book immediately. This is my third book from him and my second in the Bess Crawford mystery series. I love having a woman character like Bess who represents a vulnerability in her character while matching wits much like Sherlock Holmes. Add to that element a bit of history and you have the blending of a perfect suspense mystery. So it's easy to see why I would rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars. I can't wait to read more from him in the future and once again, this novel has found a forever home in my personal library.
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