World War I Battlefield nurse Bess Crawford’s career is in jeopardy when a murder is committed on her watch, in this absorbing and atmospheric historical mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd.
Home on leave, Bess Crawford is asked to accompany a wounded soldier confined to a wheelchair to Buckingham Palace, where he’s to be decorated by the King. The next morning when Bess goes to collect Wilkins, he has vanished. Both the Army and the nursing service hold Bess negligent for losing the war hero, and there will be an inquiry.
Then comes disturbing word from the Shropshire police, complicating the already difficult situation: Wilkins has been spotted, and he’s killed a man. If Bess is to save her own reputation, she must find Wilkins and uncover the truth. But the elusive soldier has disappeared again and even the Shropshire police have lost him. Suddenly, the moral implications of what has happened—that a patient in her charge has committed murder—become more important to Bess than her own future. She’s going to solve this mysterious puzzle, but righting an injustice and saving her honor may just cost Bess her life.
Why would a decorated WWI veteran desert just after being honored by the king? That's the question posed by Agatha-winner Todd's absorbing sixth Bess Crawford whodunit (after 2013's A Question of Honor). In the autumn of 1918, Bess, an experienced battlefield nurse, accompanies wounded Sgt. Jason Wilkins to Buckingham Palace, where he receives a medal from George V. After the ceremony, Bess agrees to let Wilkins have some time to himself to entertain friends, a choice she regrets after finding that he has bolted the London hotel where they were both staying. Given two week's official leave for her perceived negligence, Bess is determined to track Wilkins down and ascertain why he used her in his scheme. The murder of a man in the north of England, with Wilkins the prime suspect, complicates her efforts. As usual, Todd (the mother-son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd) effectively depicts the psychological effects of war, though the resolution doesn't do justice to the opening puzzle.