I thought I would post a book remark every Wednesday. After chasing the toddling grandgirl around to: a) reroll twenty yards of toilet paper; b) mop spilled tea (from my cup), tumped water (from papaw’s bedside cup), sopped milk (from her how-DID-she-get-the-top-off bottle) AND liquidy chicken muck (don’t ask); c) keep the crayons inside the room where we do crayons; d) keep her from attempting the ‘down’ on the stairs, which she wants to do very badly but my heart is in my mouth while watching her do it; and then to juggle laundry, dishes, and recording old music tapes to the computer while watching The Wiggles on the TV … time got away from me and I missed Wednesday. No, I mean, I don’t know where Wednesday went, because this is Thursday.
I read The Murder Stone by Charles Todd. To be honest after beginning the book I didn’t know if I could finish it. I have read everything this author (a mother/son team) has written. My thoughts were that it must be a really early book. Everything else they’ve written is good and for this reason I plowed ahead.
Pros: The book is well-conceived. When the plot does pick up – the story ties together well.
Cons: It starts out very complicated. There are three pages of characters. And some of their names are similar. I was getting Francesca and Francis mixed up. Perhaps all the characters didn’t need to be so introduced? Because the more I read, the more understanding dawned. Personal opinion – skip the character list.
Francis Hatton is an old man who dies at the beginning of the story. The story is closely told third person by the granddaughter Francesca Hatton. She may be the central character but the story is actually about the old man. Even after death some things in the past have a way of coming back around to make things ugly. At the old man’s funeral several characters pop up. One young man insists that Francis Hatton killed his mother and secretly buried her. Another wants a mysterious box, another demands that his property be returned to him. All very strange for the granddaughter who doesn’t know why so many mysteries surround the grandfather she thought she knew but learns she really doesn’t. Soon she even begins to question her own origins. Is she really his granddaughter?
The central mystery, the death of the woman, concerns Francesca especially after she develops feelings for the woman’s son. Set during WWI (which most of Charles Todd’s stories are) this stand-alone book really picks up about mid-way through. The ending is a surprise, which I still find hard to fathom. Though I liked the word play that I didn’t catch until literally the last line of the manuscript.
I would give this book a mid-range rating C + and only because it is written by Charles Todd – and probably for that reason alone. The author’s other books are much more amazing. I love the Bess Crawford series – can’t wait for the next one. I love the Rutledge series. More on Rutledge later.
Bess Crawford is a WWI nurse who is blown into the water with the sinking of her hospital ship and miraculously survives. She continues her job as nurse in France and then becomes a sleuth as mysterious goings-on happen around her. Unidentifiable bodies, concealed identities, kidnapping, murder happen during war, too. The way the writers bring out the colors of WWI from this character’s POV is amazing. I highly recommend these books: A Duty to the Dead, An Impartial Witness, A Bitter Truth, An Unmarked Grave.
Below I’ve included links to some great reviews of some of the above books. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I didn’t.
Bess Crawford book series by Charles Todd – rating Top of the Heap!