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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bess Crawford Series Continues to Delight

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for A Bitter Truth, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier novels in the Bess Crawford series.  These mysteries stand alone better than most, but, as always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

After nursing the wounded on the front lines in France, Bess Crawford travels home to London for a much-needed Christmas break.  A long winter's nap is the only thing on her mind as she heads to her flat.  Startled to find a battered woman shivering in her doorway, Bess does the Christian thing—she ushers her inside, out of the freezing December night.  

Soon, Bess discovers that her houseguest is not the vagrant she first appeared to be.  In fact, Lydia Ellis is an upperclass officer's wife, on the run from her angry husband.  She admits that fleeing her home may have been a mistake and begs Bess to accompany her back to her estate in Sussex.  Reluctantly, Bess agrees.  Spending the night at Vixen Hill assures her that Lydia is safe enough, in spite of her husband's brooding, impatient manner.  But just as Bess is preparing to take her leave, another of the Ellis' overnight visitors is found dead.  Detained by the local police, Bess finds herself stuck at Vixen Hill, where she's dismayed to discover just how entangled she's become in the family's affairs.  

Even when the police allow her to leave Sussex, Bess is haunted by what she's learned at Vixen Hill.  She can't stop thinking about the Ellis Family's biggest secret, one that has her scouring France in search of answers.  When the mystery follows her back to England, Bess once again finds herself running for her life while trying to solve a puzzle that could change one family forever. 

If you've read the first two books in the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd, this plot may sound familiar.  Without a doubt, A Bitter Truth follows the formula laid out in its predecessors.  But, wait!  There's a twist—an intriguing subplot that turned this third book into my favorite of the series.  While Bess continues to get on my nerves a little and I'm (im)patiently waiting for sparks to fly between our heroine and the loyal Simon Brandon, I'm still quite enjoying these mysteries.  Clean, entertaining and well-researched, the series continues to delight.

(Readalikes:  A Duty to the Dead; An Impartial Witness; and An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd; also reminds me of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear)

Grade:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for mild language (no F-bombs) and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of A Bitter Truth from the generous folks at Harper Collins.  Thank you!    


  1. Hello Susan!

    I haven't read any of the Bess Crawford series. Do i have to read the first two books to thoroughly enjoy this book?

    I like your blog a lot :D

    1. Aw, thanks :) I'm so glad you like the blog. I have lots of fun writing it!

      The books in the Bess Crawford series stand alone better than those in any other series I've read. It's definitely not necessary to read them in order.

  2. I will add this book on my next to-read list :)

    Have a happy day Susan!


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