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A Pattern of Lies
Bess Crawford # 7
Charles Todd

William Morrow
August 18th, 2015/ ISBN 9780062386243
Mystery / England / Historical

Reviewed by Elise Cooper


A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd has the main character Bess Crawford deeply involved in solving a “who done it.” As with all the books, this strong female nurse is put in a situation where she has to help solve a case that is always surrounded in mystery. An added bonus is learning what it was like living during the World War I era.

In this book, readers are immersed in the culture of 1918. This includes how the medical profession began to use specialists, and how prisoners were not allowed to see their families, a decision determined by the police.

The plot begins with Bess assigned to accompany a convoy of wounded soldiers to a hospital specializing in internal wounds. Nurse Bess Crawford is left stranded when her train is detained in the small town of Canterbury, Kent. While strolling, she sees a former patient, Major Mark Ashton, who insists she stay with him and his family. It is here she finds out two years earlier, the family business (a gunpowder factory) exploded, causing more than 100 deaths. Though the official investigation ruled out sabotage, rumor has it that Mark’s father, Philip, was responsible. Bess finds herself caught up in a malicious show of hostility, including how the family was terrorized and a whisper campaign blaming Philip, which leads to his arrest. Bess risks her life to find out the truth of what happened behind the explosion.

This is a book about revenge. The most interesting part of the story is when the authors explore the mob mentality, as the townspeople attempt to create a believable truth. The campaign of terror includes the police and ranges from subtle to outright viciousness. The Todds commented that they wanted to convey how “people are eager to find someone to point a finger to, and wanted a scapegoat. People wanted answers and someone to blame considering the explosion took away the town’s economic livelihood and many lives.”

A Pattern of Lies has a very interesting plot based upon the true event of the 1916 Oare Gunpowder Works explosion in Kent. Readers will enjoy how the authors weave into the storyline historical insight of the time period.

The Todds also gave a heads up about their future projects. Coming out in September in print form will by a short anthology, Tales, which include two Bess Crawford and two Detective Ian Rutledge stories. Their next Bess book will bring back the American, Captain Thomas Barclay. Fans should look forward to this since the chemistry and interaction between the two characters makes for a lively plot. The next Rutledge book, also based on a true story, will take place in Cornwall, England where the detective must sort out if four young women actually committed murder.

Note: Charles Todd is a mother /son team of writers

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 2015