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Thursday, January 24, 2013

An Unmarked Grave, by Charles Todd {Review and Giveaway}

I was feeling in the mood to read a good mystery and so I was delighted when an opportunity presented itself to read and review An Unmarked Grave which is the third in a series of Bess Crawford mysteries by Charles Todd. I was initially attracted to this character and mysteries because they are set in WWI, based in England. Bess Crawford is a nurse and in this particular title - An Unmarked Grave - she is serving on the front lines in France as well as in England.

This is the first Bess Crawford mystery I have read. (In fact, it's the first time I've ever heard of these books!) When I started reading, it dawned on me that this was not the first book in the series as certain events in Bess's life were being referenced throughout the story. However, none of the prior events seemed to have any bearing on the current story and I didn't feel lost as I read along. It was easy enough to pick up right here in the series and move along.

I am delighted to report that this was a squeaky clean mystery, minus the blood, war wounds and a few murders. There was not any language nor were there any sex scenes. I was so happy to discover this as it seems to be harder and harder for authors and publishers these days to focus solely on telling a good story without trying to be sensational in these two areas. A big and hearty THANK YOU to Charles Todd and the publisher, William Morrow, for allowing me to relax into a story for a fun time without being jarred out of it by foul mouths and unnecessary descriptions. (Seriously. Thank you!) Obviously I cannot attest to whether or not this is true for all the Bess Crawford books, but I'd be happy enough finding out for myself!

Being that this is a murder mystery, I'm going to avoid talking about the plot of this book so as to avoid spoilers. Personally, I enjoyed the history in this book as much as I enjoyed the mystery. Todd doesn't spend a whole lot of time regaling us with war stories, but he does talk about the situation in France, how patients were treated for wounds, etc. He weaves the history of World War I deftly through the pages. For example, when he begins to describe how wounded men were transported and what road conditions were like, you get a feel for what it must have been like removing men from the front lines. He describes the wounds of a victim of a gas attack and how people protected themselves from such things in a way that really brings the difficulties to life for the reader. I thought he did a tasteful and wonderful job setting the backdrop for his mystery which helped to bring the whole thing to life. (And, in fact, I enjoyed his manner of story telling so much that I consumed the book in a single day.)

I must confess that part of the reason I wanted to read this book was because the television show Downtown Abbey takes place, partially, during World War I. Lo and behold, when my copy of the book arrived, I discovered it is labeled as being a cure "for the post-Downton Abbey blues." Of course, we in the USA are now relishing Season 3 at this time but that just made reading this book all the more fun!

If you are in the mood for a good, clean, fun mystery - I feel I can safely and highly recommend An Unmarked Grave. I'm curious to hear from anyone else who might have read the other Bess Crawford mysteries to hear if they are all as well done or if there are things to be on the alert for. Any one?

How this for extra incentive?: Would you like to WIN a copy to read? Simply leave a comment below (including a valid e-mail address!). This contest is open to US and Canadian residents and will be open through January 30th. 

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNER, (as selected by random.org) IS #5 - PETITE. CONGRATS!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours who invited me to read this book in exchange for my honest opinion and for participation in this book tour. I enjoyed it very much!

30 comments:

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I read the first one and enjoyed it. Sign me up! :)

hopeistheword (at) gmail (dot) com

Barbara H. said...

I've never heard of this author, but this sounds good. I appreciate a good story without the trashy stuff that is so prevalent today.

barbarah06 (at) gmail (dot) com

Nancy said...

Downtown Abbey's put me in the mood for this book, too. Thanks for the review and giveaway.

nanze55(at)hotmail(dot)com

traveler said...

This novel sounds wonderful. Many thanks for this chance. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

I am very interested in this book. the era and the mystery. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Annette {This Simple Home} said...

Yea! Another clean mystery writer to add to my list! Thank you! I'd fully enjoy this for the history and the mystery!

thissimplemom at gmail dot com

Joan said...

Thanks for the opportunity! Glad to learn of another safe mystery writer! Have you tried Alan Bradley? I dont always like the family dynamics, but his 9 year old slueth Flavia is fun. Jrstoller1 at live dot com

Bluerose said...

To be honest, I typically avoid war stories of any kind. I do occasionally enjoy them, though, AND it's hard to find good, clean mysteries. Plus, Downtown Abbey references always suck me in(still haven't watched it yet). Sign me up! :)

bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com

Beth said...

I've never heard of this author, but now I'm intrigued! I'm definitely going to be checking out his work!
jandbstabley at gmail dot com

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

WE read Duty to the Dead for book group last summer -- and the members all really enjoyed it. Would love to read this too!
melmccurdyATsbcglobalDOTnet

Sky said...

This sounds fun! I would love to try it.

Heather VanTimmeren said...

Oh, I love mysteries with a good dose of history!

histtheo1 at yahoo dot com

debbie said...

I love it when mysteries are set in periods of history. It makes them really good reads.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Carol M said...

I love mysteries and I've heard these are good! I'd love to read this one! Thank you for the giveaway!
mittens0831 at aol dot com

apple blossom said...

nice review thanks for sharing

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

I love mysteries and am always looking for a good, clean one. marijotaverne @ clearwire . net

Janna said...

I don't usually read mysteries but you have intrigued me (mainly because I love Downton!). ;o) jannarebekah(at)aol(dot)com

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this wonderful story

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

BerlinerinPoet said...

I would LOVE to win a copy! heatherliz.carrillo@gmail.com

Pam K. said...

I, too, enjoy reading "clean" mysteries and am always glad to hear of an author who can deliver that. I'd enjoy winning a copy of this book. Another series you might like is the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.

pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

Tore said...

I havent read the books but I would love to. Thanks for the giveaway. Tore923@aol.com

Diary of an Autodidact said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Litterairy said...

Aha! I've been looking for these. A co-worker told me I should read them (we had previously bonded over Flavia DeLuce), but she only told me the character's name, which I forgot and then she quit. On the library list it goes! (You might also enjoy reading Green for Danger by Christianna Brand, a mystery written during and set in the London air raids.)

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I've only read the first book in the series but it was just as clean as this one, and I enjoyed it a great deal!

Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Emmy D said...

I've seen Todd's books often enough at the library and wondered if they'd be worth reading...now a trusted source says they are! I'd love to give this one a try!

(rophibianislands@gmail.com)

Anita Yancey said...

I hadn't heard of this author before either. But this book sounds like a great read and I really like the time period it is set in. Please enter me. Thanks!

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

trish said...

The historical details sound fantastic! I love that time period, too, so I don't know why I haven't picked this series up yet. No need to enter me in the drawing, though.

hopeinbrazil said...

This was my first Charles Todd title and, like you, I was pleased with a clean, well-told story. I did find some it very hard to believe (the motive for the first murder especially), but I've heard that the other titles are much better.

shostagirl said...

Looks like a good one! I'd love to win it... shostagirl @ gmail . com

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

haha, it does sound like a cure for downton abbey blues! thanks for the contest and review!!

inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

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