A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication date: April 12, 2016Paperback: 352 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
A horrific explosion at a gunpowder mill sends Bess Crawford to war-torn France to keep a deadly pattern of lies from leading to more deaths, in this compelling and atmospheric mystery from the New York Timesbestselling author of A Question of Honor and An Unwilling Accomplice.
An explosion and fire at the Ashton Gunpowder Mill in Kent has killed over a hundred men. It’s called an appalling tragedy—until suspicion and rumor raise the specter of murder. While visiting the Ashton family, Bess Crawford finds herself caught up in a venomous show of hostility that doesn’t stop with Philip Ashton’s arrest. Indeed, someone is out for blood, and the household is all but under siege.
The only known witness to the tragedy is now at the Front in France. Bess is asked to find him. When she does, he refuses to tell her anything that will help the Ashtons. Realizing that he believes the tissue of lies that has nearly destroyed a family, Bess must convince him to tell her what really happened that terrible Sunday morning. But now someone else is also searching for this man.
To end the vicious persecution of the Ashtons, Bess must risk her own life to protect her reluctant witness from a clever killer intent on preventing either of them from ever reaching England.
I am a little surprised that I haven't read any of the Bess Crawford Mysteries before this one. Starting with the seventh book in the series probably wasn't ideal, but I really didn't feel lost at any point in the book. The authors do a nice job of providing any necessary information from previous books so that newcomers don't miss anything.
Bess is back on a short leave, but finds herself stranded since her train was massively delayed. She accepts the invitation to stay at former patient Major Ashton's family home and finds herself embroiled in the troubles that are plaguing the family. Bess is a curious and intelligent woman and she seems to seek justice and likes to help if she can. The tragic explosion at the Ashton Gunpowder Mill a couple of years previous has suddenly come back into the center of attention and the townspeople want someone to blame even though it was ruled an accident by the military.
Bess uses all her resources and contacts to find the only witness to the explosion even though he is at the Front and isn't willing to help out the Ashtons. There are rumors and accusations flying around, but very little actual evidence. So, Bess goes in search of witnesses and evidence that will get at the truth. Bess turns out to be a quietly competent nurse and sleuth who is able to use her many contacts in the military to help in her search for answers.
I found A Pattern of Lies to be an enjoyable mystery and a good look at life at home during the Great War as well as the military hospitals, the nurses and injured soldiers. It wasn't what I had expected, but I thought it was well written and the story held my attention throughout. I not only enjoyed the mystery, but I also liked the examination of the family members and the way they each handled the stress and grief of the explosion and the way that Philip Ashton was treated by the authorities and the town.
I think that A Pattern of Lies (and possibly the other Bess Crawford mysteries) should be added to my "comfort reads" list. I found it to be a very enjoyable novel with interesting and memorable characters. I think A Pattern of Lies would appeal to historical mystery readers, readers who are interested in the Great War, and readers of general mysteries as well. As a homeschooling mom, I might add A Pattern of Lies to the supplemental historical fiction reading list for my high school students.
Visit their website at Charlestodd.com and like CharlesToddNovels on Facebook.
Charles Todd’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, April 12th: FictionZeal
Wednesday, April 13th: A Book Geek
Thursday, April 14th: #redhead.with.book
Friday, April 15th: I’m Shelf-ish
Monday, April 18th: Jayne’s Books
Wednesday, April 20th: Reading is My Super Power
Wednesday, April 20th: Mel’s Shelves
Thursday, April 21st: Tina Says…
Monday, April 25th: Mama Vicky Says
Tuesday, April 26th: Staircase Wit
Wednesday, April 27th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews