An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd – Book Review

animpartialwitness pictureAn Impartial Witness by Charles Todd
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins

This is the second book in the Bess Crawford series. I previously reviewed the first book, A Duty to the Dead.

Transporting injured troops back to England is one way to temporarily escape some of the horrors of war, although bringing home grievously injured men has horrors of its own, particularly when the men have been disfigured. One such soldier is Meriwether Evanson. Horribly burned in a plane crash, Meriwether is on suicide watch, but seems to be buoyed by the thought of his wife, whose picture he keeps pinned to his uniform. After looking at Marjorie Evanson’s picture pinned to Meriwether’s coat for days, Bess Crawford has her face basically memorized and cannot fail to recognize the woman when she runs into her at the train station, even though Marjorie is sobbing and pleading with a man who seems completely uninterested. Bess is headed back to France and war, but before long the news reaches her that Marjorie was murdered later that same day, and Meriwether killed himself with grief. Having witnessed the teary scene at the train station, Bess feels involved, and is determined to find out who murdered Marjorie.

The Bess Crawford series is really shaping up to be a good one. In An Impartial Witness, we once again find Bess pulled into a situation in which she never intended to find herself. After A Duty to the Dead, it is not surprising that Bess can’t bear to sit on the sidelines and simply trust that everything will get sorted out. She shows herself to be strong and smart, if occasionally not as cognizant as danger to herself as she should be. The highlight of An Impartial Witness, though, may be Bess’s back and forth relationship with Simon, her father’s right hand man. Their relationship is one of mutual respect, and his support for her intelligence and skills is particularly attractive considering the book is set in 1917. He is protective of Bess without being smothering or infantalizing her. I have to say, I really, really hope there’s a romantic relationship between them in the future, because I adore their interactions  and am not sure that many other men would fully accept and support the strong woman Bess is.

If I wasn’t participating in Book Club Girl’s Book Time with Bess readalong, I probably would just read the rest of this series straight through, but I’m trying to hold off so I can participate in the discussions more fully.  Still, I’m looking forward immensely to the third book, A Bitter Truth, and the soon-to-be-released fourth book, An Unmarked Grave. Highly recommended.

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6 comments to An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd – Book Review

  • I’m so glad I joined the read-along. I’ve enjoyed both books we’ve read so far. I think there was a small but noticeable change in the relationship between Bess and Simon in this book. I’m with you in hoping it develops into a romance. They seem perfect for each other.

  • I just finished listening to this one on audio – Rosalyn Landor does a terrific job of narrating! I was bummed to find out my library only has book three in print. And, I also hope that Bess and Simon’s friendship deepens into something more!

  • I’m going to be part of the TLC tour on Tutu’s Two Cents for book 4 An Unmarked Grave on Monday June 18th, I’ve read all the previous ones and enjoyed them so much, but had planned to re-read them before the newest one arrives. Your read-along has inspired me to get going!

  • I haven’t started this series but obviously need to – it sounds marvelous!

  • I’m with you, if it wasn’t for the read along I would be blazing through this series. I’m grateful to be slowing down and really savoring each one.

  • I am the same. I have the third book here to read, but I have been waiting until closer to the end of the month! I also have decided to hold off reading the latest Maisie Dobbs book until after I catch-up in this series, so part of me is eager to catch-up! I am just worried the similarities would be too much all at once time and I want to enjoy this series.

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