It is the early summer of 1917. Bess Crawford has returned to England from the trenches of France with a convoy of severely wounded men. One of her patients is a young pilot who has been burned beyond recognition, and who clings to life and the photo of his wife that is pinned to his tunic.
While passing through a London train station, Bess notices a woman bidding an emotional farewell to an officer, her grief heart-wrenching. And then Bess realizes that she seems familiar. In fact, she's the woman in the pilot's photo, but the man she is seeing off is not her husband.
Back on duty in France, Bess discovers a newspaper with a drawing of the woman's face on the front page. Accompanying the drawing is a plea from Scotland Yard seeking information from anyone who has seen her. For it appears that the woman was murdered on the very day Bess encountered her at the station.
Granted leave to speak with Scotland Yard, Bess becomes entangled in the case. Though an arrest is made, she must delve into the depths of her very soul to decide if the police will hang an innocent man or a vicious killer. Exposing the truth is dangerous—and will put her own life on the line.
Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. Among the honors accorded to the Ian Rutledge mysteries are the Barry Award and nominations for the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association’s Dilys Award, the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the U.S., and the John Creasey Award in the UK. A mother-and-son writing team, they live on the East Coast.
One day she slips away from the cantonment to visit the famous seer in a nearby village. Before this woman can finish telling her fortune, Bess is summoned back for an afternoon tea with the Maharani, a close friend of her parents'. The seer's last words are a warning about forthcoming danger that Bess takes as the usual patter. But this visit by the Maharani has ominous overtones that mark it as more than a social call. Her husband has political enemies, and she has come to ask Bess's father, Major Crawford, for help.
As the Maharani is leaving, Bess notices that there is something amiss with the royal entourage. Major Crawford must set out after them—but will he be in time?
And what will happen to Bess, and the household left behind, when a vicious assassin circles back to take hostages?
Here is an extraordinary glimpse into the childhood of the Bess Crawford we know from her service in the Great War.
“Readers who can’t get enough of [Jacqueline Winspear’s] Maisie Dobbs…are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford.”
—New York Times Book Review
To great critical acclaim, author Charles Todd introduced protagonist Bess Crawford in A Duty to the Dead. The dedicated World War I nurse returns in An Impartial Witness, and finds herself in grave peril when a moral obligation makes her the inadvertent target of a killer. As hauntingly evocative as Todd’s award-winning, New York Times bestselling Ian Rutledge novels, An Impartial Witness transports readers to a dark time of war and involves us in murder, intrigue, and the fascinating affairs of a truly unforgettable cast of characters.