Monday, December 28, 2009

Book 53: A Duty To The Dead

I believe this mystery was one of the NextReads recommendations I get by email from the Omaha Public Library. I highly recommend signing up for that from their website. You select the genres and each one gets a monthly email of recommended books. I save them for those times when I just don't know what I want to read.

A Duty to the Dead is by Charles Todd-- apparently a mother and son writing team. I cannot imagine such a thing. I am certain there would be insurmountable creative differences when I refused to include Jedis or Robots. The heroine of this mystery is Bess Crawford, a British Military nurse during WWI. Prior to the opening of the book, Bess had promised Arthur Graham that she would deliver his dying message to his brother-- a wrong must be set right. Bess has delayed in fulfilling this wish, but after the hospital ship she is on is sunk and she nearly dies, she realizes she has a duty to the dead.

Arthur's family is a trainwreck, a closed-mouth sort of trainwreck. There are three living brothers-- one who is unfeeling, one who has a clubfoot, and one locked in an asylum for the criminally insane. There is also a frosty stepmother and her nearly silent cousin. In setting right the wrongs, Bess has to dig around and pry quite a bit and naturally, the family sets up as many roadblocks as possible.

The pacing of this was quite good. There were some unexpected turns of events. I must say that I thought justice was poorly served on the family members. The ones left living ought to have paid more and the ones who paid with their lives ought to have paid less.

Bess's family also makes an appearance in the book-- her parents and her father's bat-man provide the appropriate contrast to the Graham family. At the same time, they are rounded enough to serve in future installments of the series. I may have to check out the other series by this duo-- the Ian Rutledge mysteries.

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