A Cruel Deception by Charles Todd (Review by Missi Gwartney)

2 min read

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

Sister Bess Crawford is back in the eleventh book of the Bess Crawford mystery series. A Cruel Deception by Charles Todd will follow beloved protagonist Bess through a mysterious “mission” to find not only a missing lieutenant but also on a journey of reflection through the eyes of a soldier while trying to decide her own future. Will Bess’s success in finding the lieutenant be a simple open/close scenario or will it lead down a path that turns out to be more dangerous than she anticipated?

WWI is in its end of days and peace talks are moving forward. Families are learning to live post war without loved ones, soldiers are returning with both physical wounds and emotional scars, and the world is figuring out what comes next. Sister Bess Crawford is a nurse who has been caring for the wounded and can’t imagine doing anything else right now. When she is summoned to London’s headquarters, Bess is hesitant to leave but knows she cannot deny the request. Her task seems simple enough when her new job becomes one of finding the Matron’s “missing” son, Lieutenant Lawrence Minton, but little does Bess know than Minton doesn’t want to be found and she may be in over her head.

When Bess does locate Minton, she realizes that this task involves much more than simply finding him. Minton is uncooperative and views Bess as his mother’s spy and a nuisance. However, with his strange behavior, Bess knows there is more to his story. What (or who) could have led the lieutenant to try and disappear? As Bess is struggling to find answers, she must decide if it is worth putting herself in danger to help a man who so desperately needs it but clearly doesn’t want it.

I enjoyed this book and loved the great combination of historical fiction and mystery. I loved the way current issues such as PTSD and opioid addiction were written into the story with such empathy during a time period when many were expected to suffer silently. I wish I would’ve had more background on our characters but since I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, I did expect some past references. I wouldn’t shy away from this book if you haven’t read any others because it’s still an enjoyable story and I don’t think you’d be disappointed. I’m looking forward to reading more of Bess Crawford!

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