• Shea Robinson

A Duty to the Dead Book Review

Welcome to another Crawford’s Mysteries and More! Book Club Novel Review. Novels read in book club will fall into the following categories: Detective (crime is solved by a detective/police officer), Cozy (no violence), Caper (told from the criminal’s POV), and More (not strictly a mystery)! Mysteries will be reviewed based upon the crime taking place, the intrigue of the information that gets revealed, the relative success of red herrings, and the satisfaction of the ending.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd is a Cozy Mystery novel. Charles Todd is actually the pen name for the mother and son who co-authored this book. It is the first novel in their Bess Crawford 12-book series.

Bess is the kind of protagonist you want to follow. She’s woman of her time but she’s strong and independent and bound to help people regardless of if it puts her in danger. She’s a regular Nancy Drew. And because she feels calm and collected, so do you as the reader. You’re sitting cozy under that blanket and even with a gun to her back (or to her front for that matter) you’re not worried she’ll make it out okay. There’s tension and drama enough to keep the pages turning but not enough to spill your hot chocolate.

The title is the first intrigue. Who is bound to keep a promise after the person is dead? Bess Crawford is a nurse treating soldiers fighting in the first World War when one of her patients on his deathbed makes her promise to deliver a message to his brother. It’s his earnestness that shakes her to her core. She is her father’s daughter and to not follow through would be worse than death, so she makes the trek to the hometown of this deceased soldier.

The message is the second intrigue. “Tell Jonathan I lied. I did it for Mother’s sake. But it has to be set right.” Shivers down my spine. What was the lie? What was Mother doing? Who was hurt as a consequence?

The six subsequent murders skip right past third time’s the charm and straight into astonished. I know, I said it was cozy. And I'm telling the truth. People die but it's not the grisly scene you see in a Stephen King novel. There are red herrings but nearly everyone in town is connected to the message that it’s like following Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs: you know you’re going somewhere interesting so you’re just happy to see what dark turn is next. The ending is pretty twisted but still entirely believable and gives you that satisfying feeling of a job well done.

Pick up your copy soon. A Duty to the Dead is Crawford's Books’ September Book Club pick. Grab your copy today and then join the virtual meeting on September 9 from 6:30-7:30pm.

Interested in what the Mysteries and More Book Club is reading? Check out past reviews and what’s on the horizon: 1/14 Magpie Murders, 2/11 The Henna Artist, 3/11 Mr. Mercedes, 4/8 And Justice There is None, 5/13 The Song of Achilles, 6/10 The Big Sleep, 7/8 The Ice Princess, 8/12 The Devil and the Dark Water, 9/9 A Duty to the Dead, 10/14 Long Bright River, 11/11 The Guest List, 12/ 9 American Dirt

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