I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours for review consideration, opinions expressed are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd
Series: Bess Crawford #6
Published by William Morrow
Publication Date: Reprint May 5, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Mystery or Thrillers
Source: TLC Book Tours
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
“In this absorbing and atmospheric historical mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford’s career and life are in jeopardy when a murder is committed on her watch
Bess Crawford has been summoned by the War Office to accompany a wounded soldier from Shropshire to Buckingham Palace, where he’s to be decorated for gallantry by King George himself.
Heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair, Sergeant Jason Wilkins will be in her care for barely a day. But on the morning after the ceremony when Bess goes to collect her charge for his return journey, she finds the room empty. How could such a severely wounded man vanish without a trace?
Both the Army and the Nursing Service hold Bess to blame for losing the war hero. The Army now considers Wilkins a deserter, and Scotland Yard questions Bess when Wilkins is suspected of killing a man in cold blood. If Bess is to clear her name and return to duty in France, she must prove that she was never his accomplice. But the sergeant has disappeared again and neither the Army nor the police can find him.
Following a trail of clues across England, Bess is drawn into a mystery that seems to grow darker with every discovery. But will uncovering the truth put more innocent people in jeopardy?”
An Unwilling Accomplice follows nurse Bess Crawford and the unexpected turn of events that makes her an unwilling accomplice to a murder. Set during WWI in England and France, I loved the atmosphere and time period of this story. We learn through Bess’ voice the complications of being a single woman in the military, the suffering she witnesses and the lives she saves. The social expectations for propriety while she comforts the soldiers she treats both physically and emotionally make her the perfect scapegoat and unwilling accomplice to the murder.
However, Bess is no ordinary nurse. Her quest to restore her reputation takes her on a journey throughout England trying to find Seargant Wilkins, her patient and accused murderer. Bess is clever, determined, and pushes the boundaries of her station to find the missing seargant and solve this mystery.
Bess gets some help from Simon, a Seargant-Major in the British Army and devoted friend of Bess’ father, Colonel Sahib. I wonder about their relationship. Simon is bound to protect Bess but I wonder if there is some romantic involvement, I’m curious as to what his motives are for helping her. I probably need to read the other books in the series to get a better understanding of the nature of their relationship.
I found it unique and interesting that author Charles Todd is really a mother and son writing team who lives in two different states. How do they tackle writing a book together? The story and characters are seamless and like all good mysteries there are subtle hints that kept me curious to the end. Maybe one day, I can write a book with one of my book – loving kids!
An Unwilling Accomplice is an enjoyable and elegant read. Many mysteries and war stories these days are designed to shock, thrill and awe the reader with gruesome details. However, Todd gives just enough detail about the war and wounds to make the reader empathize with the characters’ plight while focusing on the plot. An Unwilling Accomplice is a refreshingly clean mystery reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes with a strong female lead character. It’s a mystery I would not give pause to let my teen read.
Travel the World in Books – England (London, Shrewsbury, Dysoe)
Other Bloggers’ Reviews:
1. What did you learn about England and World War I from this story?
2. Do you think Bess anticipated how difficult this mystery would be to solve when she began? Would you have tried to solve the mystery on your own if you were in her situation?
3. Bess is ahead of her time in being an independent working woman in early 1900’s. How do you think this impacts the story?
4. Even after Bess is exonerated, she still hunts for Seargant Wilkins. Why do you think that is? What are Simon’s motives for helping Bess?
5. For someone who heals people, why do you think Maddie is so persistent about not helping Bess and Simon find the truth?
6. What would you ask mother-son author team, Charles Todd, if you could ask them anything about this book and it’s writing?
7. Who would you cast in the movie version of this story?
8. Were you surprised by the ending or did you anticipate what would happen?
9. Have you read other books in the Bess Crawford series? Are you going to?
10. What did you most like about the book? What do you wish happened differently?
More Reading Group Guide Questions from the publisher are in the back of the book and there are some good ones!
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Feel free to answer discussion questions in the comments but this is a SPOILER FREE ZONE, so don’t give away too much!