Bess Crawford is Charles Todd’s brave and capable WWI nurse who always finds herself in the middle of a puzzle that needs to be solved. See our recent interview with the author here. Today, Kerry Hammond is here to review the most recent book in this great series.
The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd is the 7th book in the Bess Crawford series, which features a British WWI nurse who often works right near the front line, caring for the wounded soldiers. The book releases August 30, 2016, in Hardcover from Harper Collins. There is a hand full of authors whose book release dates are marked on my calendar. Charles Todd shows up twice in my datebook, once for the Ian Rutledge series and once for Bess Crawford. Both are well-written, engrossing stories that I very much look forward to reading.
In The Shattered Tree, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford treats a soldier brought to her in an extreme state. He was found next to a tree that had been shattered by gunfire, he was exhausted, his clothing was in tatters, and he was barefoot. The soldier is supposedly French, but in his delirious state, he speaks to Bess in German. She confides her concerns to the field hospital Matron and is told that the soldier is most likely from the region of Alsace-Lorraine, which lies on the border between France and Germany. Those who come from that region speak German but align with the French.
When Bess is wounded and sent to Paris to recover, she feels that she must try and find out if the soldier was, in fact, French. But as she tries to investigate, she comes up against quite a few walls of silence as she digs into events from the past that many would prefer stay hidden. Without the resources of her father or his other military contacts, she puts herself in danger when she pokes around searching for answers.
This was one of my favorite books in this series. If I had to pinpoint the exact reason, I would need to name at least two. I enjoyed the fact that Bess was in Paris recovering from her wounds, therefore allowing her the freedom to investigate the whereabouts of the soldier she treated. One might think that a book about a war nurse would have few settings other than the battlefield aid station, but this isn’t the case. Todd manages to plausibly locate Bess in many interesting locations, finding a mystery for her to solve in each and every one. Part of the anticipation involves wondering just where she will be next.
Bess Crawford, in addition to being a sleuth of sorts, is someone who has a knack for uncovering secrets. As the reader can imagine, most of the characters who are keeping these secrets are not at all happy that she excels at this. She is a strong and determined woman, and this book allowed her to show that she can work within the confines of where women found themselves in the early part of the 20th Century. Her resourcefulness and intelligence make her a favorite character of mine. I enjoyed that she was, for the most part, on her own to search for answers.
This may be the 7th book in the series, but new readers will find that it can be read as a standalone. There are no spoilers or deficiencies based on previous installments, and anyone can jump right in and follow along.
This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review was fair and completely independent.