Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review: A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd

A Pattern of Lies (Bess Crawford, Book #7)
by Charles Todd
Release Date: August 18th 2015
2015 William Morrow
Ebook Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062386243
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

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.

My Thoughts
A Pattern of Lies is the seventh book in the Bess Crawford series, and I definitely liked this installment much better than I liked the previous one.  The whole concept of "a pattern of lies" was intriguing, and I liked how it was developed; the idea that one person or a group of persons could spread malicious ideas and lies and how a mob mentality can take over and bring such grief to others is quite horrifying.  Just the thought of what other people can do to others, brought about through vicious gossip and innuendos, is quite shocking.

In 1916, a gunpowder mill exploded killing over 100 men and injuring many others, leaving the nearby town devastated and without an income it had depended on for over 100 years.  The mill's production was eventually moved elsewhere, leaving devastation and heartbreak in its wake.  The events in this story were very loosely based on a real event so I found that quite interesting and did a bit of research myself.   I am amazed sometimes at the laxity in investigative procedures and what 'official' reports will overlook in order to come to a solution.  And the law during this time was very different; the Ashtons, on the receiving end from even the police, really had no one to turn to and were feeling very pressured on all sides.  As much as we complain about the law today, we definitely have it better than 100 years ago.

Bess Crawford is a trained nurse serving on the front during WWI.  I love the comparisons between what she did on the front, treating all of those injured soldiers so capably, to the situations where she had visitors and almost got in trouble for being seen with several different men, even though Simon is an old friend of the family's.  The limits on her behaviour, while loosening because of the war, are still quite prevalent, but for a woman like Bess who has traveled quite extensively and who has seen so much on the front, she is finding it more and more difficult to live up to the expectations and limits placed on her by society.  Personally, I can't wait until she breaks those bonds and finally loosens up  a little as I really feel like her development has stalled; while she is very inquisitive and very creative, with high standards and morals, I didn't get a solid sense as to what was really feeling.  The world has been changing for the past two years, quite drastically, and with what she has seen, you'd think she would have changed as well, but I feel like her character has gotten a bit boring, or rather stuck.  I would love to see her get involved in some personal entanglements, develop some stronger female friendships, and really show her personality as it would make her so much more interesting. 

A Pattern of Lies was a thoughtful mystery, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I liked the sleuthing, the slow buildup of clues, the deciphering of pieces of information; I didn't mind that it took a bit to build up as I rather enjoyed it, trying to figure out what was happening.  Having a history background, I loved the scenes at the war front, and got a good feel for how things were like, enjoying things from a nursing perspective.  I even liked the little addition of the Red Baron in there.  As this series enters peace time, I am curious as to where the authors will take it.  Perhaps we will finally see some romance for Bess; and the set-up begins our quest to discover which one she will choose, Simon or Sergeant Lassiter.