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A Bitter Truth

(Bess Crawford #3)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  6,011 ratings  ·  581 reviews
Already deservedly lauded for the superb historical crime novels featuring shell-shocked Scotland Yard inspector Ian Rutledge (A Lonely Death, A Pale Horse et al), acclaimed author Charles Todd upped the ante by introducing readers to a wonderful new series protagonist, World War One battlefield nurse Bess Crawford. Featured for a third time in A Bitter Truth, Bess reaches ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published August 30th 2011)
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3.89  · 
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 ·  6,011 ratings  ·  581 reviews

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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Bess Crawford is on leave from the front when she stumbles over a woman outside her house. She takes pity on her and learns that the women has been struck by her husband and has fled to London. She slowly gains the woman's trust and learns that her name is Lydia and that her husband's name is Roger. Bess agrees to travel with her home to her house in the country. But this act of kindness will result in quite a lot of trouble as everyone in the household inclusive Bess will be suspected in a murd ...more
Jennifer Mccann
So installment 3. Pretty good. A solid 4.

A few things I didn't like: 1) Lydia. Spoiled and making demands of Bess to stay or do things. Jesus woman, just say no. 2) Simon finds a connection between the dead that no one knew of creating motive for another character- how about a wee bit if foreshadowing? Otherwise it looks contrived for a different ending than the illogical mess that came before. 3) Give Bess a love life, a wee bit of romance in her life. Don't make her so flat and only driven by
Judith Starkston
Charles Todd’s A Bitter Truth interweaves the vices of war with the failings of families into a psychologically and historically compelling mystery set in England in 1917. Bess Crawford, an intelligent and fearless nurse working on the front lines in France, comes home on leave to discover a frightened young woman with a bruised face hiding on the doorstep of her London flat. Unable by nature to leave the mysterious stranger out in the cold winter night, Bess convinces her to take shelter inside ...more
Kirsten "Ghost Deserved Better"
Another excellent Bess Crawford mystery. I got behind in this series - in all my series, really - and finally got around to finishing this one.

I love this time periof and this one is a little claustrophobic. It is an English Country House mystery with extended circumstances. Bess was very patient with Lydia. Much more patient than I would have been! (She didn't even get to spend time with her family while she was on leave from France!)

Good mystery with good characters!
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Good, but wasn’t a compelling read for me - seemed a bit draggy in spots. Protagonist is morally refreshing - enjoyed the author’s characterization of this resolute nurse in an interesting WW 1 timeframe! I believe I did enjoy the 1st one of this series a bit more - “Duty to the Dead” which I recently read.
First Sentence: A cold rain had followed me from France to England, and an even colder wind greeted me as we pulled into the railway station in London.

Returning from the battlefields of France to England for Christmas leave, WWI nurse Bess Crawford encounters a desperate woman, rain-drenched and bruised in her building’s entry. Offering her shelter, Bess slowly learns the woman, Lydia Ellis, had been struck by her husband during an argument. Lydia begs Bess to return to the family’s house in Sus
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
At the outset it is necessary to say that I have not read the first two Bess Crawford Mysteries so Bess' background and her relationship to Simon, who seems to appear anytime Bess is in dire straits, is not familiar to me. As a result I found the relationship confusing. But, even it I understood that aspect of the story, I would be hard-pressed to believe the whole basis of the book. That a war-time nursing sister would take in an abused woman in the middle of the night in London was a stretch f ...more
Oct 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I like the character (nurse Bess Crawford) and the time and place (England, WW I), this story was very disappointing. The premise was very weak and the events that followed felt very forced. It lacked an emotional center. This book bore little comparison to the Ian Rutledge mysteries by the same mother/son writing team. Those books are emotional, intelligent and much more engaging.

A more fulfilling series that involves a WW I nurse is the William Monk/Hester Latterly books by Anne Perry.
This book does little to answer The Question of Simon. When introduced in the first book, I assumed he must be gay. Why else would a nice guy, still young enough to fight (I'd guess in his 40s), still be single and opt to live in a small cottage by himself? I mean, it's war time, an eligible man who doesn't have to go fight would have women following him around. Then, as I read the books, I thought possibly he was in love with Bess (he goes wherever she goes in England). Or maybe it's her mother ...more
So so. Bess is an inconsistent character, the family that she is drawn in to help is full of stereotypes - and their obsession with a dead perfect child is a bit over the top. The plot is full of red herrings, and bogs down as a result. The war time scenes are good, and the character of the Aussie sergeant Larimore is a welcome bright spot in the midst of all the starchy and angst ridden types.
Mairita (Marii grāmatplaukts)
3,5, varbūt 4 zvaigznes. Spriedzes gabals, bet kaut kā vietām nepārliecināja notikumi un pierādījumu pavedieni. Sajūta par klavierēm no krūmiem, lai gan aiz deguna izvazāja smalki.
Cate (The Professional Fangirl)
This is a Reading Good Books review.

* In compliance with FTC guidelines, it should be noted that I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

I have a love-hate relationship with the mystery/thriller genre so I’m constantly on the hunt for new titles to see how an author will twist the well-known and loved genre into something new. I haven’t read anything by Charles Todd before so I was quite looking forward to reading this one.

A Bitter Truth is third in the series of mystery nov
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it was me,but I found the plot on this one highly improbable. Why would Bess Crawford get herself mixed up with these folks?
Mar 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
I liked this book but I also found it really slow.
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd mother and son writers, so I was expecting a great read and I was not disappointed with A Bitter Truth. The main character is Bess Crawford who is a nurse in France during the war. On her way up the stairs to her apartment in London, she sees a woman huddled under the stairs. The weather is bitter cold and Bess can see the woman has on a thin coat and is shivering uncontrollably. She invites the woman in and gives her hot tea ...more


I congratulate the Charles Todd team for constructing a spunky heroine in Bess Crawford who is intriguing to follow around. The lure of the mystery strongly influenced me to continue uncovering mysteries with Bess..So that’s why I picked up the third book in the series (not just because it follows book 2)

Once again, however, I felt deflated when I reached the end.

What’s the reason for mystery and suspense? Its like the buildup to the motive and revelation of the deep, dark secrets. More sp
Carol Storm

Much like A DUTY TO THE DEAD, this Bess Crawford mystery is long on intriguing characters but short on mystery and suspense. Bess' involvement with Lydia and her family starts out plausibly enough but there are so many eccentric family members and so many dangling plot threads that the whole story becomes unintentionally funny by the end of the book. I wanted more, more, more of sexy Lydia and her headstrong reckless ways, and less, less, less, of creepy old ladies pining over graveyard memorial
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
A stranger on your doorstep with bruises, a stranger you let into your home, and a stranger who became your friend and brought trouble when you arrived at your new friend's home. Could you make friends that quickly and feel comfortable enough to go to their home?

Bess thought it was possible, and when she arrived at Lydia's home she immediately knew there was something strange about Lydia and her entire family. This became even more apparent when a family member was murdered and Bess became one o
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
Life is about to change for battlefield nurse, Bess Crawford on a dark and blustery night in London. When the police are searching for a deserter, Bess heads home to her flat alone. Yet on the stoop of her doorway is a woman, hiding and wearing a thin coat, trying to find temporary shelter from the storm. When Bess offers her a cup of tea and a respite from the weather for a few minutes, she sees that the woman's face bears a battered and bruise hand print along with endless tears down her face. ...more
Andrew Macrae
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 chara
"A Bitter Truth" is an engrossing depiction of the life of a battlefield nurse in WWI and an upper class family in rural England. We observe the interactions of this family as they attempt to deal with a particularly embarrassing situation.

Bess Crawford is a nurse who returns to England on leave from her duties in the battlefields of France. She is surprised to find a well dressed woman huddled in her doorway. When Bess sees that the woman, Lucy Ellis, has a bruise on her face, Bess's compassion
A Bitter Truth
3.5 Stars

On leave from the front, WWI nurse Bess Crawford, encounters a woman alone on a rainy night in London. After taking the young woman in, Bess quickly learns that not everything is as it seems and soon finds herself embroiled in a nasty case involving a missing child and a murder.

Slow to start and the mystery doesn't make a great deal of sense. Nevertheless, Bess is a likable heroine and the historical detail is fascinating.

The mystery is the weakest aspect of the book as
This mystery, one of the many I've read by Charles Todd, is part of his new series which "stars" Bess Crawford, a nursing sister in the first World War. This is the second book in which Todd and his mother are listed as collaborators even though her name does not appear on the book cover. I found the pace of the story very uneven-- fascinating at the beginning with descriptions of Lydia's home where the moor and forest are bleak in winter and at the end where the discovery of the actual murderer ...more
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Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this book least of the four in the series--still well-written, still loved the characters and especially Simon, who gets showcased in this book. But the people Bess is helping are unsympathetic at best and selfish to the max at worst, so that just makes you want to get her away from them. That makes it harder to enjoy the book. Is there a slight homage to Austen going on here, with great guy Simon Brandon--almost as longsuffering as Mary Anne Dashwood's Colonel Christopher Brandon--and th ...more
Excellent, simply excellent. Fast-paced from the beginning, and it really kept you going. Recommend!
Another clean novel by this author with an intriguing and multi-faceted plot.
Not my favorite in the Bess Crawford series -- I found it inconsistent that she would travel far away with a strange woman, then get tangled up in her family's crisis. It dragged on a bit.
Due to the verbose plot, this may not be the best WWI Nurse Bess Crawford Mystery. But a delightful new character, Australian sergeant Larimore, saves the day.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read_in_2017, series
I had issue with the initial premise of this book.
Main character is good Samaritan
Main character gets her holiday leave usurped.

I love a historical mystery god knows but I just couldn't get the opening premise out of my head.
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Around the Year i...: A Bitter Truth, by Charles Todd 1 13 May 15, 2017 03:26PM  
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Free Books, .99, ...: A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd Giveaway 7 20 May 17, 2012 07:13AM  

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Charles Todd is the pen name used by the mother-and-son writing team, Caroline Todd and Charles Todd. Together they write the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford Series. They have published two standalone mystery novels and many short stories.

Other books in the series

Bess Crawford (10 books)
  • A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford, #1)
  • An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford, #2)
  • 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)
  • A Casualty of War (Bess Crawford, #9)
  • A Forgotten Place (Bess Crawford, #10)
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