Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Few Thoughts On A Question of Honor by Charles Todd


In the latest mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, World War I nurse and amateur sleuth Bess Crawford investigates an old murder that occurred during her childhood in India, a search for the truth that will transform her and leave her pondering a troubling question: How can facts lie?

Bess Crawford enjoyed a wondrous childhood in India, where her father, a colonel in the British Army, was stationed on the Northwest Frontier. But an unforgettable incident darkened that happy time. 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. In the eyes of many of these soldiers, men defined by honor and duty, the crime was a stain on the regiment's reputation and on the good name of Bess's father, the Colonel Sahib, who had trained the killer.

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. Bess cannot believe the shocking news. According to reliable reports, Wade's body had been seen deep in the Khyber Pass, where he had died trying to reach Afghanistan. Soon, though, her mind is racing. How had he escaped from India? What had driven a good man to murder in cold blood?

Wanting answers, she uses her leave to investigate. In the village where the first three killings took place, she discovers that the locals are certain that the British soldier was innocent. Yet the present owner of the house where the crime was committed believes otherwise, and is convinced that Bess's father helped Wade flee. To settle the matter once and for all, Bess sets out to find Wade and let the courts decide.

But when she stumbles on the horrific truth, something that even the famous writer Rudyard Kipling had kept secret all his life, she is shaken to her very core. The facts will damn Wade even as they reveal a brutal reality, a reality that could have been her own fate.

William Morrow | August 27, 2013 | 320 pages

My Thoughts
  • Mother/Son writing team Charles Todd have delivered another winner with A Question of Honor, the fifth installment in their Bess Crawford historical mystery series. 
  • In this latest addition to the series, Bess finds herself investigating circumstances surrounding murders that occurred in India and England when she was a child.  Murders that were committed by an officer serving in her father's regiment and who is now believed to be dead.  Much as she had been in the previous novels in the series, Bess is helped in her endeavours by close family friend Simon Brandon.
  • The mystery in this book was intriguing and I had little inkling of how events would be resolved until the story's end.  
  • Bess Crawford, a battlefield nurse, remains one of my favourite heroines in literature. She's smart, capable, committed to her charges, independent, and fully committed to uncovering the truth even if it means placing her own life in jeopardy. 
  • One of the greatest strengths of this novel, and the series overall, is Todd's ability to capture and vividly convey the realities of life in the casualty clearing stations, field hospitals, and base hospitals where doctors and nurses, during the period covered by this novel, had to deal not only with soldiers wounded in battle but also those suffering from the Spanish influenza epidemic.  
  • The only issues I had with this novel are that the people or answers Bess was searching for throughout this book came, time and again, a little too easily.  Also, I missed the interactions between Bess and her London flatmates, a part of each of the series previous novels but not this one.
  • Does anyone else think Bess and Simon Brandon would make a good couple? Upon completion of the fourth book, An Unmarked Grave, I thought Bess and Simon were headed for romance.  Now I'm not so sure since their relationship in this book remained purely platonic. 
  • This novel was set during 1918 and, given that World War I is coming to an end, I'm looking forward to reading where Todd takes Bess next.  I imagine the next novel will still see Bess close to the front lines, but I'd love to see a novel that takes her back to India in future.  I'd also love to read a novel that delves into Simon's history. 
My rating4 out of 5 Stars

Source:  My personal collection

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