Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Cruel Deception by Charles Todd

First Line: England, Late March, 1919. I was changing the surgical dressing on a patient in Ward 3 when Matron sent for me.
Representatives from the Allied governments have gathered in Paris to put the final touches on the Peace Treaty that will officially end World War I, but bitter disagreements have already broken out. Bess Crawford is sent to Paris on a personal mission for the Matron of the London headquarters of the Queen Alexandra's, of which Bess is a part. Bess would much rather stay and work with the severely wounded in England, but she can't refuse Matron.
She has been asked to find Matron's son, Lawrence Minton, who has gone missing from his duties at the peace talks. Contrary to what she expected, Bess finds that Minton is a very disturbed man who is well on the way to becoming addicted to opiates. He doesn't care if he lives or dies. Bess is convinced that something haunts him, and that he must somehow be brought to face that event before it destroys him completely.
Many readers may have expected Charles Todd's Bess Crawford series to end when World War I ended, but this writing team has continued Bess's adventures in order to create a portrait that illuminates the cost of war on human lives—the lingering pain and horror that no armistice or peace treaty can assuage. Bess has continued her nursing, working with severely wounded soldiers, but in A Cruel Deception, she finds herself thinking about what else she might want to do with her life. She also finds herself thinking about Simon Brandon who seems to be on holiday in Scotland-- and a mysterious woman might be involved. I imagine that I'm not the only fan of this series who's wanted Bess to start thinking more seriously about Simon. Who knows? We may be getting our wish.
Another thing that Charles Todd deals with so well in this series is how Bess has gotten used to living her own life and making her own decisions without deferring to her family. This is something many women in this time period found themselves doing for the first time, and they liked it.
This series often deals with various issues wounded soldiers had to face, and in A Cruel Deception, it's the anguish of mental trauma, that most difficult affliction for most people to understand or to even begin to deal with. Here, what we now call PTSD is treated with sensitivity and understanding as Bess tries to find out why someone is attacking both Minton and herself, as well as learning what happened to Minton that makes him want to destroy himself. It's another tale well told, and I'm looking forward to the next time I meet Bess.  
A Cruel Deception by Charles Todd
eISBN: 9780062859860
William Morrow © 2019
eBook, 336 pages

Historical Mystery, #11 Bess Crawford mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


  1. I do like the Bess Crawford character, Cathy. And I think the Todd team does a really find job with evoking time, place, and culture with both of their series. They're also able to talk about some of the larger issues without bogging stories down. This one's a solid series, and I'm glad you enjoyed this entry.

    1. I've enjoyed the entire series. I'll be reading the next one, An Irish Hostage, soon.

  2. I haven't caught up with Bess Crawford for a while. Looks like I have several books to get through now.


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