Blog Book Tour | “An Unwilling Accomplice” by Charles Todd The sixth novel of the Bess Crawford mysteries!

Posted Monday, 27 July, 2015 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “An Unlikely Accomplice” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher William Morrow (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

I borrowed the first book in this series from my local library for my own edification and was not obligated to post my reflections and/or review on the story’s behalf. I wanted to understand a bit of the back-story on the principle character of Bess Crawford prior to reading the 6th book in the series. I originally perceived the idea to read the first five novels in the series prior to my tour stop, however, the hours disappeared before I could. The lightning storms did not give me any favours towards this goal, either! I was thankful I could meet Ms Crawford and find an anchour to who she is prior to soaking inside the sixth novel; yet I fully intend to go back through the series starting with the second novel and reading through til the fifth, skipping over the short story (non-digital reader) and this sixth one in strong pursuit of the seventh! I find myself wanton absorbed into the series!

Upon immediate notice of this blog tour I was wholly enthused to participate:

The reason I was quick as lightning to confirm my participation on behalf of this blog tour is based on the absolute joy I had in reading my first Todd novel Hunting Shadows! I was quite impressed with the duality of historical novelling from this lovely mother-son writing duo to such an extent: I knew quite instinctively I would become quite partial to Bess Crawford before I ever knew too much about her! Call it reader intuition if you will, but I knew quite in that instant of being broached if I wanted to become a part of this dual-blog tour for both the sixth and seventh novels of a series in progress that I would become Crawford’s newest champion!

There are moments where you are so captured by the breadth and the heart of a novel’s core, you simply want to continue to read as much as you can by the author whose penned a story you can sink your mind inside whilst feeling as though you can equally find comfort in stepping outside this world of intense realism without the worse for wear. Reading a historical suspense novel of the Todds is a delicious respite as you can time travel back inside a particular moment in history, lively at war and match step with dedicated professionals who guide you through their living hours.

Between now and my next stop on this beautiful tour celebrating the series, I will be reading the next books in line to be consumed, as I could only read the very first Bess Crawford mystery, of which I shall relate to you how it tucked inside my soul.

Reflections on “A Duty to the Dead”, the first Bess Crawford mystery:

We enter Ms Crawford’s life in 1916 during WWI, wherein she’s a sisterly nurse on board the Britannic an ill-fated hospital ship struck down by a hidden mine. Bess Crawford is attempting to convey a snippet of her life aboard ship whilst at a proper loss how to express the dullness of an ordinary day at sea without the benefit of the wounded. She is honest about the dangers being on a ship in U-boat territory but with a sly nod to the familiars of ordinary life spent in service. Even her coy banterment with an officer proved she found a balm of normalcy in the midst of war.

A blessing whilst reading a Todd novel, is the assurance of the story-teller(s) to eclipse you so very surely into the novel’s depth that by the time you reach a quell in the horror of war or the emotional hardship of an injury; you have already taken up residence alongside the character Todd has endeared your heart to champion.

I applaud the realism and the choke-hold of gasping shock when the sinking of the Britannic was shown. I felt heart-clenched to Bess, willing myself to see, feel, and taste what she was experiencing whilst longing for her rescue. Todd has a character-centric voice of giving you such a close-personal heady experience, you feel you’ve lived half a lifetime with each novel you read.

Dr. Phillips is a curious fellow – by the time the story shifts from war to the homefront, we become entranced with the eccentric and yet reserved creatures of a small towne of Owlhurst, thus named after a patch of woods known for housing owls! This is where the drama of alarm rings itself out for Ms Crawford, as she has gone henceforth in haste (after managing to put it off for a bit longer than necessary!) to seek out a family a dying man she nursed requested of her to take his deathbed message back to his brother. Dr. Phillips is the towne’s doctor, and along with the rector of the village itself, Ms Crawford finds herself entangled into the thorny past of her beloved soldier; a person of whom her opinions shifts the longer she spends caught up in his affairs. His family is not without their skeletons, but it is how their omissions and their repressions of their past beguiles Ms Crawford that paints the scene all more intriguing to the reader.

Knickers quickened to knots over the competence and tenacious approach of Ms Crawford to take up the heed of medical assistance, not once, but twice whilst she is a guest at the soldier’s family estate. The Grahams are a curious (and aptly suspicious) lot, wherein she could never quite finger what was odd about them until nearly the golden hour in which her own life might have become hung in the counterbalance! One would have felt her aperture to serve whilst not in official capacity would have appeased the family for giving a sign of both courage and strength, yet her efforts had quite the opposite effect! This is the underpinning reasons why Ms Crawford started to nettle inside her mind what was truly lying in wait for her to discover; the more they attempted to hide the truth from her suppositions, the more her mind ferreted out a reason to question their authority on where the truth truly lay.

What hidden secrets in their past reflected out in their cold disdainment for a brother and son? War is known as a cruel mistress, yet those who return with the aftershocks of service had little sympathies from their families and even less compassion from medical and spiritual adviseries. Save the nurses who understood far more than everyone else combined.

Knitted into this first novel of the Bess Crawford mysteries is a trifold of suspense surrounding three young blokes of whom warrant the most attention to be focused upon: Arthur Graham (the wounded gent entrusting Ms Crawford with his message); Ted Booker (a soldier afflicted by PTSD; previously called ‘shell shock’), and Peregrine Graham the eldest of the four brothers, of whom Arthur was related. I could not pull my eyes off the dialogue and text of this novel, because the Todds have become so intrinsically tethered into this WWI era as to alight into our minds an imaginary time where a young and capable woman such as Bess Crawford can not only reside but take up arms against the unjust in such a convincing way as an elder Miss Marple!

I kept turning it over in my mind what drew me the most into her world – it was at first the historical backdrop of the timescape but then, as the layers were fleshed out and stitched together, it was the classic Todd narrative of giving a story an underlit joy of a strong lead character whose self-assurance and capacity for sleuthing was a paramount wealth of excitement on behalf of the reader! Seeing everything through Bess Crawford’s eyes and the underscore of her emotions, knitted together a suspenseful plot writ out of such an ordinary request from a fallen soldier, that it took a skilled story-teller in this duo of writers to give us such a hearty novel to devour!

I read the first 58 pages in my first sitting and consumed the full of the novel in my second; lightning crackling more times than naught, and without the benefit of tweeting out my happy delight in seeing where Ms Crawford’s museful thoughts led me to decipher the mystery; I simply awaited my words to become laid to rest on my blog. By reading this first mystery out of a series of 7 novels, I was able to ascertain the countenance of Bess Crawford but also, the beauty of her life being lived off the pages of her stories — the Todds have such a confluence of creativity between them, it hadn’t felt like a ‘first novel’ of Bess Crawford but one of many already penned. The continuity and attention to even minor details was quite excellent and this novel not only justified being read ahead of another in the series but provided the background necessary to understand who Bess Crawford is as a character. Including her close ties to India and her beloved respect for her father, of whom influences her even when his presence is absent.

Blog Book Tour | “An Unwilling Accomplice” by Charles Todd The sixth novel of the Bess Crawford mysteries!An Unwilling Accomplice
by Charles Todd
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor

In this absorbing and atmospheric historical mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford's career and life are in jeopardy when a murder is committed on her watch.

Bess Crawford has been summoned by the War Office to accompany a wounded soldier from Shropshire to Buckingham Palace, where he's to be decorated for gallantry by King George himself.

Heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair, Sergeant Jason Wilkins will be in her care for barely a day. But on the morning after the ceremony when Bess goes to collect her charge for his return journey, she finds the room empty. How could such a severely wounded man vanish without a trace?

Both the Army and the Nursing Service hold Bess to blame for losing the war hero. The Army now considers Wilkins a deserter, and Scotland Yard questions Bess when Wilkins is suspected of killing a man in cold blood. If Bess is to clear her name and return to duty in France, she must prove that she was never his accomplice. But the sergeant has disappeared again and neither the Army nor the police can find him.

Following a trail of clues across England, Bess is drawn into a mystery that seems to grow darker with every discovery. But will uncovering the truth put more innocent people in jeopardy?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author: Hunting Shadows

Series: Bess Crawford mysteries

Published by William Morrow

on 5th May, 2015

Format: P.S. Edition Paperback

Length: 11 hours, 3 minutes

Pages: 368

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

About Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the author of the Bess Crawford mysteries, the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina, respectively.

{ reading order of the series }

No.1 A Duty to the Dead | Book Synopsis

A Duty to the Dead
by Charles Todd
Source: Borrowed from local library

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

Also by this author: Hunting Shadows

Series: Bess Crawford mysteries No.1

Published by William Morrow

on September 2009

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 336

No.2 An Impartial Witness | Book Synopsis

No.3 A Bitter Truth | Book Synopsis

No.4 An Unmarked Grave | Book Synopsis

No.5 A Question of Honour | Book Synopsis

No.6 An Unwilling Accomplice (this review!)

No.7 (short story; only digitally released) The Maharani’s Pearls | Book Synopsis

No.8 A Pattern of Lies | Book Synopsis *forthcoming review!

Converse via: #BessCrawford & #CharlesTodd

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Listen to an Excerpt of the Novel:

On listening to the opening of the audiobook:

How blessed am I? Only a mere two years have flipped forward yet Ms Crawford has still taken up residence at Ms Hennessey’s and thereby I instantly knew I could peer into the future within this series I know love with a bit of reassurance I could back-step afterwards before continuing onward. It felt like having returnt home after a small absence; finding a few things changed but otherwise, quite the same.

I positively *loved!* the voice they choose to convey Bess to us, as she had just the right level of alertness to her voice’s tilt that I already suspected Bess had in her nature to give way to anyone who spoke to her. She was a young woman caught up in the tides of war, but she had something about her that set her apart from her peers; this I knew from the instant I met her on Britannic.

I felt an acquaintance with her landlady in this brief excerpt I hadn’t quite found inside A Duty to the Dead as she was barely focused in scene; here she is brought forward quite a bit into the foreground, and a knowing sense of her earnest admiration for Bess and her colleagues came into view. I truly felt the narrator nailed the British bits quite well, and it bespoke of my own mind’s remissiveness in noting the absence of certain words and phrases from the first installment! I had a good chuckle on this, as I am quite disillusioned when historical fiction isn’t quite anchoured by voice nor style to a time era; much less a country’s dialect! I believe the reason I might have overlooked this absence in how words are spelt (American rather than British!) is due to how intense the story was overall as I had read A Duty to the Dead!

This narrator makes up the difference, as I loved hearing how she pronounced certain words and gave new meaning to me on quite a few of them! Even ordinary words, words I can recognise and know outright can become a bit altered when heard aloud in a different manner of pronunciation! I revel in these discoveries!

My Review of An Unlikely Accomplice:

I had commented to myself on concluding A Duty to the Dead how fanciful it was that I had followed Downton Abbey knowing of how batmen and their charges became quite closely endeared to each other and their families; it was of no surprise to me that Simon was fetching dear Ms Crawford nor of her elation to see him! Even his observation on her good fortune of looking ‘rested’ was not lost on me, and despite the two year gap between my first exploit into this series and now; it would appear old habits die hard. For Ms Crawford was always a bit askew to exhaustion rather than properly looking after herself, as she has the tendency to put duty and responsibilities ahead of her own comforts.

What an affront to be greeted with by the nursing matron and the Army! I could well imagine the seething anger running through Ms Crawford’s veins, alongside the disappointment of realising that you were partially responsible even if the events were not completely of your own device! An Unwilling Accomplice took an interesting turn when Bess was dealt quite the curious hand of dealing with a missing patient whose mystery of presence is compounded by murder! Quite a turn for her young shoulders, as she’s used to carrying for the men whilst they are too ill to fathom the extent of their injuries but one thing was understood from the start of the series: injuries of the body are uniquely different than that of the mind! Sometimes it is hard to discern character from observation, and in the tomb of silence from her command, Ms Crawford picks apart her own deception in this case by trying to sleuth out an explanation for why she failed at such a simple task.

Oh! What an unexpected delight in getting to know the batman of her father a bit better in this installment! Simon took up with Ms Crawford on her cross-county hunt for her aforementioned missing patient whose started to run amok and errant in directions that only appeared to make sense to him! I loved how Ms Crawford is cast-out from her duties in this story, left to find either solace in time-off or to find something to takeaway the idle hours from driving her slowly crazy! I, do believe, anyone in her position of unwanted scrutiny would have taken it upon themselves to find a way to put rights back to their good name!

At first I felt the ‘unlikely accomplice’ was Bess herself, then a bit lateron as we tucked ourselves further into the narrative, I felt circumspect to realise it could be Simon. In many ways, they both were equal to the part of being the ‘accomplice’ to each other. One of my favourite bits to the Bess Crawford mysteries is how the Todds have ingeniously tapped into knowing how letters and swirls of correspondence are happily found in novels; they include pieces of mail to be read by both their characters and the reader! I must admit, seeing the excerpts of the letters makes my heart swell with a lot of joy as there is nothing quite happier than a letter to hold in one’s hands! Simon’s letters were a welcome sight as much as her mothers’ when Bess had to return to France. Apparently, despite appearances to the contrary, her matron saw fit to let her continue to serve despite the cloud of distrust hovering over her after this one misadventure. Such a strong shift of view, to go from gallivanting cross-country with Simon and then back tending wounded in a surgical ward; part of this segue felt quite normal given the circumstances and part felt cruel, as she was a step closer to understanding it all.

As the truth wiggled itself out of the nethersphere of shadows, Bess drew closer to Simon; a confidante she could rely on and a wicked good ally to help her noodle out the mystery of where truth and lies like to reside. It was this secondary thread of scope that held me rapt to the pages, the mystery within An Unwilling Accomplice is quite a somber one when all told. Finding Bess is starting to find herself attached to someone she hadn’t even considered as a plausible suitor was quite the good folly to overtake the sad state of where all the leads eventually led.

The gratitude I have for the Todds:

My third novel read by the Todds, and I am over the moon in swelling admiration for their dedication to serial fiction and the characters they’ve made quite dear to my heart to find within the pages of their novels! My gratitude for the Todds to convey the seriousness of their stories with a light touch to the more sensitive bits of their mysteries has allowed me a grace to soak inside their suspense-filled plots with an ease that is not entirely true of others in their field. I do not find myself flinching or horrified by anything described because they have a pull-back knitted into their style. They allow you to ‘see’ only just a bit of what is truly gruesome and only a small measure of what would be viewed if you were upon the scene in person. I appreciate this because it allows your mind to knit together the missing bits or to gloss over it completely.

The Todds have given me such a strong character in Bess Crawford, it is hard to feel anything but blissitude for having found her as her truest strength is her determined mind to root out a mystery by piecing together the clues that alight as she investigates. Her investigations are more purported out of the necessities of her actions and those of her duties as a nurse; to the brink you do not oft realise she’s investigating as she takes such a natural route towards that goal as to be-fool you into thinking she’s only ‘slightly curious’ towards a resolution rather than to put herself into harm’s way on purpose. Her willingness to go the extra mile for her patients points towards her resolve as a nurse, but her capacity to understand her patients and the murky waters of humanity are what make her such a strong presence in Mystery & Suspense Fiction.

You do not merely ‘read’ a Bess Crawford mystery:
you devour it whole and true within one or two sittings;
eager for the next installment & nestling inside this niche of war mysteries.
I haven’t appreciated such a rapt attention to the World Wars as a back-drop
since my viewings of the BBC serial “Foyle’s War”!

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This blog tour was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

{ click-through to follow the blogosphere tour }

TLC Book Tours | Tour HostI will be sharing my thoughts on behalf of the rest of the Bess Crawford series prior to my tour stop on the second half of this blog tour, wherein I shall reveal my concluding thoughts on book No. 7 of the Bess Crawford mysteries: A Pattern of Lies! Due stay tuned to book my blog and my bookish tweets!

My next tour stop for this lovely series is on: 11th of September, 2015!

Be sure to scope out my next reviews & guest author features!

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Reader Interactive Question:

What do you love the most about war drama mysteries and the backdrop of war knitted into the scope of the stories and/or series? Which authors and series of this kind have endeared you to their folds? And, do you enjoy meeting characters like Bess Crawford whose natural inclination to sleuth is entwined with her willingness to serve as a nurse!?

Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

{SOURCES: Cover art of “An Unlikely Accomplice”, author photographs of the Todds, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Buy links on SoundCloud excerpt are not affiliated with Jorie Loves A Story. Book Excerpt was able to be embedded due to codes provided by SoundCloud. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

I’m a social reader | I tweet as I read:
(with the exception of insane lightning storms preventing it!)

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 27 July, 2015 by jorielov in 20th Century, Audiobook, Audiobook Excerpt, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Britian, British Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, During WWI, Equality In Literature, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Foyle's War, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Humour & Satire in Fiction / Non Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Lady Detective Fiction, Library Love, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Military Fiction, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Mother-Son Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Psychiatric Facilities, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Siblings, Soundcloud, the Nineteen Hundreds, The World Wars, TLC Book Tours, War Drama, Widows & Widowers, Writing Style & Voice

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2 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “An Unwilling Accomplice” by Charles Todd The sixth novel of the Bess Crawford mysteries!

    • Hallo, Hallo Trish,

      Ooh so do I! It doesn’t come often though does it? Where you can devour a whole book in one sitting – of course, when it comes to the duo behind Charles Todd, I must say, they not only know how to capture your innate curiosity for the stories they’re writing – they also know how to keep you hooked and rooted in their books until you’ve turnt the very last page! I’m a lifelong appreciator of their collective works and that is all thanks to TLC!

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