The other series by the Ian Rutledge series’ author, Charles Todd.
Who is Bess Crawford?
Described as a series for anyone who loves Downton Abbey and the British-set mysteries of Elizabeth George, the Bess Crawford series is about a nurse solving mysteries during the Great War.
Bess Crawford is not the usual upper-middle-class British gentlewoman. Independent-minded, she grew up in India where she learned the importance of responsibility, honor, and duty from her officer father. Now, she is determined to help as many wounded as possible.
Bess Crawford Books in Order:
- A Duty to the Dead – Dedicated to helping the many wounded during the Great War, Bess Crawford receives a desperate request from a dying lieutenant while serving as a nurse aboard a hospital ship. “Tell my brother Jonathan that I lied,” the young man says. “I did it for Mother’s sake. But it has to be set right.” Back home in England, Bess receives an unexpected response from the dead soldier’s family.
- The Girl on the Beach – A short story collected in Tales.
- An Impartial Witness – In the early summer of 1917, Bess Crawford is charged with escorting a convoy of severely wounded soldiers from the trenches of France to England. Among them is a young pilot who carries a photograph of his wife. But later, in a railway station, Bess sees the same woman bidding a heart-wrenching farewell to a departing officer. Back on duty in France, Bess is shocked to discover the woman has been murdered.
- A Bitter Truth – Returning to her London flat from the front lines in France for a well-earned Christmas leave, Bess Crawford comes upon a bruised and shivering woman huddled in the doorway. Propelled by pity, Bess takes her in. When her troubled houseguest meets an untimely death, Bess finds herself the prime suspect, and on the trail of a vicious killer that leads back to war-torn France.
- An Unmarked Grave – In the spring of 1918, the Spanish flu epidemic spreads, killing millions of soldiers and civilians across the globe. Overwhelmed by the constant flow of wounded soldiers coming from the French front, Bess Crawford must now contend with hundreds of influenza patients as well. However, Bess discovers, concealed among the dead waiting for burial, the body of an officer who has been murdered.
- The Walnut Tree – An holiday short story.
- A Question of Honor – Bess Crawford enjoyed a wondrous childhood in India, where her father, a colonel in the British Army, was stationed. But in 1908, Colonel Crawford’s regiment discovered that it had a murderer in its ranks, an officer who killed five people in India and England yet was never brought to trial. A decade later, tending to the wounded on the battlefields of France during World War I, Bess learns from a dying Indian sergeant that the supposed murderer, Lieutenant Wade, is alive—and serving at the Front.
- An Unwilling Accomplice – Home on leave, Bess Crawford is asked to accompany a wounded soldier confined to a wheelchair to Buckingham Palace, where he’s to be decorated by the King. The next morning when Bess goes to collect Wilkins, he has vanished. Both the Army and the nursing service hold Bess negligent for losing the war hero, and there will be an inquiry. Then comes disturbing word from the Shropshire police, complicating the already difficult situation: Wilkins has been spotted, and he’s killed a man.
- The Maharani’s Pearls (short story) – A short story collected in Tales.
- A Pattern of Lies – An explosion and fire at the Ashton Gunpowder Mill in Kent has killed over a hundred men. It’s called an appalling tragedy—until suspicion and rumor raise the specter of murder. While visiting the Ashton family, Bess Crawford finds herself caught up in a venomous show of hostility that doesn’t stop with Philip Ashton’s arrest. Indeed, someone is out for blood, and the household is all but under siege.
- The Shattered Tree – France, October 1918. Though the war is nearing its end, the German enemy refuses to go quietly. During a nighttime barrage, British stretcher bearers find an exhausted officer. The soldier is brought to Bess Crawford’s aid station. Surprisingly, the officer isn’t British—he’s wearing the tattered remnants of a French uniform. And even stranger, when he shouts out in anger and pain, he speaks in fluent German.
- A Casualty of War – Though the Great War is nearing its end, the fighting rages on. While waiting for transport back to her post, Bess Crawford meets Captain Alan Travis from the island of Barbados. Later, when he’s brought into her forward aid station disoriented from a head wound, Bess is alarmed that he believes his distant English cousin, Lieutenant James Travis, shot him. Still, Bess wonders how such an experienced officer could be so wrong.
- A Forgotten Place – The fighting has ended, the Armistice signed, but Nurse Bess Crawford has been assigned to a clinic for amputees, and the Welsh patients worry her. Their officer, Captain Williams, writes to describe their despair, and his own at trying to save his men. When Captain Williams’ sister tells Bess he has left the valley. Bess is afraid he intends to kill himself. She follows him to an isolated and quickly discovers these villagers are hiding something, and she’s learned too much to be allowed to leave.