Tag Archives: charles todd

The Walnut Tree: A Holiday Tale
by Charles Todd

The Walnut Tree Reviewed by Teri Davis

For those people who were born into the upper echelons of the classes in England and Scotland, World War I was more than a war, it was a permanent change in their daily life. With the influences of the suffrage movement and the industrial revolution the lives of everyone were permanently and irrevocably altered. Gone were the days of the great houses with the downstairs staff meeting all the needs and desires of those born into the wealth.

Lady Elspeth, although orphaned, has lived a conventional life of the nobility, even though she is a ward of her uncle until her thirtieth birthday. However, she is given the freedom of an adult woman of class and wealth in her twenties while still having the closeness of her family, her cousins.

Being the year is 1914, Elspeth plans to go to France to assist her longtime close friend, Madeleine Villard with the birth of her first child. Henri, Madeleine’s husband is distracted by the nearby German forces after the assassination of Kaiser Wilhelm as they invade Belgium and begin to occupy parts of France. Also, Elspeth has been attracted to Madeleine’s brother, Alain, for years. Even though he is without a title, he does come from wealth. He gives her his mother’s ruby ring as a promise to ask her uncle for her hand in marriage. As the men become involved in fighting, Elspeth wonders if she should go home.

An Unmarked Grave: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd

An Unmarked Grave Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

An Unmarked Grave takes place in 1918. Bess Crawford is a nurse where she is assigned to a field hospital in France. She tends to the wounded. The situation gets worse as the Spanish Influenza strikes and makes not only the soldiers very ill but also some of the medical staff.

A private who is in charge of the dead bodies until a burial takes place confronts Bess. He asks Bess to come with him. The private has one more body then he should have and suspects something is not right. Bess agrees to go with the private to the shed where the bodies are kept. After viewing the body, she confirms the soldier did not die from either the influenza or from wounds received in a battle. She also recognizes the young man.

Bess wants to report this matter; however, she is taken very ill with the influenza. She is sent home to her parents. As she begins to recover, she starts to remember some of these things that happened with the soldier. At first, she thought she might have had a dream but in time she is sure about what had taken place.

The Confession by Charles Todd (Review #2)

The Confession Reviewed by Teri Davis

What would any police inspector do when a man seeks him out at Scotland Yard to confess that he has actually murdered a man? Added to this, this man states that he will not be punished for his crime since he is near to death. The man is dying of stomach cancer. Essentially, this is a deathbed confession.

Inspector Rutledge investigates but is sidetracked when he discovered this man’s body was discovered in the Thames River. He was not drowned, but was shot in the back of the head. Why kill a dying man? Quickly, he also discovers that the dying man identified himself with a false name. Why? Added to this is a locket around the dead man’s neck. The locket belonged to a woman who long ago disappeared.

Ian Rutledge is dealing with his own guilt from fighting in France during World War I. Being given orders and being responsible for these orders being carried out, Rutledge was placed in the situation of leading his men on a suicidal mission. When his best friend refused the order, Rutledge was forced to shoot him. Now, the guilt daily stays with him in the form of the assassinated man speaking with him in his mind. There is evidence of shell-shock in every war.

The Confession by Charles Todd

The ConfessionReviewed by Patricia Reid

A man walks into Rutledge’s office at Scotland Yard and identifies himself as Wyatt Russell. From Russell’s appearance, it is obvious that the man is very ill. Russell admits to Rutledge that he is suffering from cancer and does not have long to live. His purpose for visiting Scotland Yard is to confess that he killed a man in 1915 and was never apprehended. Russell states that confessing is the only way to clear his conscience. He names his victim as his cousin, Justin Fowler.

Rutledge is curious but confused. Although Russell admits to the murder, he is not willing to offer many details and eventually states that his confusion is due to the morphine that he is taking. Without enough evidence to open a murder inquiry Rutledge still cannot just let the matter go. His curiosity will not allow it. When a body is found floating in the Thames with a bullet in the back of the head, it turns out that the body is that of Rutledge’s confessor to murder of a few weeks ago. There is a gold locket around the man’s neck containing a picture of a young woman.

Rutledge takes the locket and travels to Essex and the village of Furnham, the home of Wyatt Russell. Although the community of Furnham does not welcome strangers, Rutledge is able to speak to the minister who informs Rutledge that the picture of the dead man is not that of Wyatt Russell.

A Bitter Truth: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd

A Bitter TruthReviewed by Patricia Reid

Bess Crawford is a nurse currently stationed in France. When she is granted leave to return to England for the Christmas holidays she welcomes the break from the war zone and looks forward to visiting her family. Bess shares an apartment with some other nurses and it is not uncommon for her to have the place to herself since her roommates all have assignments. Upon arriving at her apartment building, Bess finds a young woman huddled in the doorway. The woman is well dressed and appears to be bruised as well as suffering from the cold. Her clothing is not designed to keep her warm. Bess convinces the woman to take refuge in her apartment.

The young woman finally confides in Bess that her name is Lydia Ellis and she resides in Sussex. She had quarreled with her husband, Captain Roger Ellis, and Captain Ellis had struck her. Eventually after hearing bits and pieces of Lydia’s story Bess convinced her to return to her home in Sussex and attempt to work out her problems. Lydia’s husband was home on compassionate leave due to the illness of his brother Alan. Alan had recently passed away.

Lydia begged Bess to return to Sussex with her to Vixen Hill the Ellis family home. Bess agrees although Simon Brandon was not thrilled with the idea. Simon is a long time family friend who had served with Bess’ father and is very protective of Bess. On arrival at Vixen Hill, Bess finds that plans are underway for a memorial service for Alan and family members are gathering. Bess learns of the tragic death of Roger’s young sister years ago, a death from which none of the family seems to have completely recovered.

A Lonely Death by Charles Todd

A Lonely Death by Charles ToddReviewed by Nancy Eaton

Chief Inspector Cummins is retiring but before he makes an exit, he confides in Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge that there is one unclosed case that will remain in his mind forever.

Things soon get very busy for Detective Rutledge. Three men are discovered murdered in Sussex. They all had something in common. Each one was a World War I veteran. They were all discovered with a wooden identity disc in their mouth. In addition, each one has been garrotted. Detective Rutledge was injured in the war and he depends on his job at Scotland Yard to keep from thinking about the many horrors he witnessed.

Detective Rutledge is called in to help solve these murders. There are some clues but they really don’t seem to make any sense. The first thing Detective Rutledge has to do is to investigate the background of each man murdered to see if he could find something the three had in common other then the fact that they were all World War I veterans.

Is Detective Rutledge able to solve this case?

An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

An Impartial Witness by Charles ToddNurse Bess Crawford is returning to England with a number of severely wounded soldiers from the battlefields in France. Among them was a severely burned victim, a pilot. His bandages had to be changed every hour and the way he looked would be enough to make anyone cringe due to the fact that he had several open burn wounds. It was believed that the one thing that kept this soldier alive was the photo of his wife that was pinned to his tunic.

While at London’s Waterloo train station, Bess notices a woman and a soldier. The woman appears to be very upset and crying. Bess could not get over the fact that the soldier did not seem to reach out to the woman to provide some kind of comfort. As Bess caught a glimpse of the woman’s face, she could not believe what she saw. There was no mistake about it. This woman is the same person in the photo the burn victim has pinned to his tunic. What is going on?

Almost by accident, Bess discovers that the mysterious woman has been murdered. The murder happened the same day that Bess saw the woman and the soldier at the train station. When her husband is told this tragic news, he commits suicide. Bess is granted leave to give her information to Scotland Yard.