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An Unwilling Accomplice
Bess Crawford Series #6
Charles Todd

William Morrow
May 5, 2015 / ISBN 9780062237194
Historical Mystery / England /France / WWI

Reviewed by Elise Cooper


An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd is a great read. Not only does it have a riveting mysterious plot but it also has details about English society during World War I. Since this month marks the 100th anniversary of the war people might want to read this book to immerse themselves in that era.

The plot begins with World War I nurse Bess Crawford on leave to accompany a wounded soldier, Sergeant Jason Wilkins, to Buckingham Palace, where he’s to be decorated by the King. Her duties include escorting him back to the hotel and prepping him for his journey back. The next morning she checks in on him only to find he has disappeared. Bess is baffled because the missing Sergeant was presumably badly injured, confined to a wheelchair, and unable to walk out of the hotel by himself. A soldier is then found murdered outside of London a few days later and someone has recognized Sergeant Wilkins as the perpetrator.

Bess must face a number of ramifications for the Sergeant’s actions. Both the Army and the nursing service hold her negligent for losing the war hero. Scotland Yard comes calling to Bess’s door, and accuses her of irresponsibly for leaving her patient, allowing him to go AWOL, and possibly murder someone. She enlists her good family friend Simon to help solve the mysterious disappearance, restore her reputation, and clear her name.

She is somewhat hampered by what she can do and how to gain access to information. The authors show, through the characters, the restrictions on women. A woman during that era was not free to travel alone. They were basically subservient to men including having to turn over any of their own property when married.

Another interesting part of the book is the comparison with that era and current times. How easily people take for granted the way detectives solve crimes today. During that period intuition, questioning, and connecting the dots were the tools used instead of DNA, ballistics, and fingerprints.

Readers are able to see the differences between serving then and now. The Todds explained, “During World War I everywhere you went there were wounded. Think about the statistic that in England alone five million people died, and that number does not include those wounded. There was much more of a connection between the civilians and the military. That is why we put in the book, ‘Everyone was in uniform. Even the wounded had special ones to wear while recuperating to show the world they had done their duty.’ The wounded had special blue uniforms to show that they had served proudly and should be treated with respect. Consider that and compare it to the poor Vietnam vet who was treated so shamefully.”

They also commented, “Since this book deals with the subject of deserters, readers need to understand that during those times they were shot, pure and simple. People who did not carry out their duties were considered disgraceful. They were shunned by their family as much as the country. Women handed out white feathers to cowards who were not serving in the military. Even Rutledge who suffered from PTSD did not tell anyone how he felt because he was afraid he would be seen as a coward.”

An Unwilling Accomplice not only has an enthralling plot but also provides historical insight into the time period. As always there are wonderful plot twists, and an ending you might not expect. This book is a mystery, historical novel, and psychological thriller all rolled into one.

The authors also hope that fans will attend the Military Book Fair on November 8th on the USS Midway in San Diego, California. “We are looking forward to it. This family loves ships and has seen a lot of World War II vessels. It is going to be nice to meet people from the military who read our books, since military issues are the background of our novels. We hope people will come by and at least say hello.”

Reviews of other titles in this series

Duty to the Dead #1  [review]
Impartial Witness #2  [review]
Bitter Truth #3   [review 1] [review 2]
An Unmarked Grave #4
A Question of Honor #5  [review]
An Unwilling Accomplice #6  [review]
A Pattern of Lies #7 [review]
The Shattered Tree # 8 [review]

Reviewed 2014