November seems to us to be a good month for reading mysteries. Or maybe it's just a good month to read A Duty to the Dead, the debut novel in Charles Todd's new mystery series.
For the most part, we really enjoyed this novel. Set in England in 1916, the World War I setting appealed to our historical bent and Todd's new heroine, Bess Crawford, is truly the perfect protagonist: independent without being pushy, brave without being a hero.
A nurse home on medical leave in World War I England, Bess sets out to find the family of a dead soldier who entrusted her with delivering them a final cryptic message on his death bed.
Upon arrival at the family's estate, Bess finds herself embroiled in a dangerous mystery involving family secrets, lies and treachery.
What we liked about Bess were her motivations. Many mysteries come up with stock, boring reasons to keep the protagonist hanging around to sort things out, but Todd is original and remains true to the characters throughout.
We did find the dialogue becoming a bit tangled towards the end, as the characters themselves discussed every possible (and some not-so-possible) solutions to the mystery at hand, which we assume was a tactic aimed at keeping the reader guessing, although it merely gave us a slight headache.
But we simply popped a couple of Tylenol and pushed on, given that we were vested in the fate of stoic, charming Bess.
For those of you who aren't familiar with this bestselling author, Charles Todd is actually two people: a mother and son writing team, Caroline and Charles Todd.
How cool is that?
A Reader's Respite would be thrilled if we could just teach our son to write his name so he could get his butt into preschool, let alone write a novel with us. Sheesh.
Of course we're offering this one up...who loves ya baby? This is a great chance to read a great mystery and get in on the start of what is to be a whole new series. Just leave us a comment if you're interested (international entrants always welcome) and check back here on November 18th to see if you won.
It's that easy.