September 2009 Indie Next List
“A Duty to the Dead introduces Bess Crawford, a strong-willed young woman in the nursing corps during WWI. To fulfill a promise made to the charismatic dying soldier she fell in love with, Bess will have to uncover family secrets and a web of deception spanning years. Bess Crawford is a character I look forward to spending more time with.”
— Joni Montover, Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX
The daughter of a distinguished soldier, Bess Crawford follows in his footsteps and signs up to go overseas as a nurse during the Great War, helping to deal with the many wounded. There, serving on a hospital ship, she makes a promise to a dying young lieutenant to take a message to his brother, Jonathan Graham: "Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother's sake. But it has to be set right." Later, when her ship is sunk by a mine and she's sidelined by a broken arm, Bess returns home to England, determined to fulfill her promise.
It's not so easy, however. She travels to the village in Kent where the Grahams live and passes on to Jonathan his brother's plea. Oddly, neither Jonathan, his mother, nor his younger brother admit to knowing what the message means. Then Bess learns that there's another brother, incarcerated in a lunatic asylum since the age of 14 when he was accused of brutally murdering a housemaid.
Bess rightly guesses that the dying soldier's last words had something to do with the fourth brother. Because the family seems unwilling to do anything, she decides that she will investigate. It's her own duty to the dead.
“Winning....Fans of independent women sleuths like Maisie Dobbs will welcome this new addition to their ranks.”
“Anyone who cares to loll in early-20th century English villages and mores and follow a plucky heroine as she confronts the stupidity of war will find solace in this old-fashioned mystery.”
“Todd employs all the elements of a satisfying cozy mystery, with an absorbing plot and a charismatic heroine that will leave the reader wanting more.”
“Full of rich historical details, this novel contrasts the beauty of the English countryside with the horrors of a war that devastated families....Absorbing.”
“Readers who can’t get enough of Maisie Dobbs, the intrepid World War I battlefield nurse in Jacqueline Winspear’s novels, or Hester Latterly, who saw action in the Crimean War in a series of novels by Anne Perry, are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford.”
-New York Times Book Review
“The superb start of a new historical series....A welcome old-fashioned mystery and a brilliant start to a character with plenty more to discover in future books.”
-New Mystery Reader
“A compelling story, a complex mystery and a revealing look deep into human nature.”
-Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
“A tense psychological drama, steeped in the tragedy of the Great War.”
-Iron Mountain Daily (Michigan)
“Todd’s novels are known for compelling plotting with a thoughtful whodunit aspect, rich characterization, evocative prose and haunting atmosphere, and A Duty to the Dead excels at each. Another moving entry in a growing and distinguished body of work, it is neither easily put down nor easily forgotten.”
“A Duty to the Dead has all the elements of a good mystery—action, suspense, murder, love, a damsel in distress.”
-Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
“Another winner....Todd again excels at vivid atmosphere and the effects of war in this specific time and place. Grade: A.”
-Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The Todd books offer an insight into and a grim reminder of the avalanche of broken bodies and minds that came back from France in 1918 as well as a reminder of how little was done to restore them.”
-Washington Times on A Duty to the Dead
“An absorbing story that will not disappoint Todd’s fans.”
-Contra Costa Times on A Duty to the Dead
“Here is a brave, smart and likable young heroine who will please Todd fans.”
-Evansville Courier & Press on A Duty to the Dead
“This is a wonderful new mystery series that will let us see the horrors of World War I through the eyes of Bess Crawford, a battlefield nurse. A Duty to the Dead is a richly realistic depiction of both the era and people who lived through it.
-Margaret Maron, Edgar Award–Winning author of Death’s Half Acre