Charles Todd is among the finest mystery writers of our day. His Ian Rutledge series is now up to 15 titles and the quality is just as high now as it was when the first title was published in 1996. His second series, the Bess Crawford mysteries, now contains four titles, An Unmarked Grave being the most recent.
I would like to see this series go on forever, but it takes place during the First World War and this recent story takes place in the spring and early summer of 1918. Time is running out. The author could continue the series after the war, but so much of what we love about these books is Bess' challenge of nursing in France near the front lines and attempting at the same time to solve mysteries. There may be only one more book to come, I fear.
An Unmarked Grave starts out with a dramatic scene in which Private Wilson, an orderly in the nursing station where Sister Crawford is working, asks her to come to the shed in which dead bodies are kept before burial. He wants to show her a man whose body is improperly wrapped and who appears to Wilson to have been murdered. His neck has been broken and his body is with those of victims of the Spanish Influenza, not with those who died from war wounds. Bess recognizes him as a family friend, Captain Carson, and promises to tell the Matron about it as soon as the woman wakes from her nap.
But Bess never gets a chance to speak to the Matron because she herself suddenly becomes a flu casualty and before the woman wakes Bess is hallucinating with a high fever. Her life is in danger for some time but eventually she begins to get well and her father, Colonel Sahib as his family calls him, arranges for her to recover in an English port town.
But when she thinks back Bess feels certain she did not dream the trip to the shed with Private Wilson. The dead man with the broken neck and no uniform, tags, or other identification is real. She asks her father to talk to Private Wilson. But no one can talk to the private. He is found hanging from the rafters of the shed and declared a suicide. Bess refuses to believe it.
When she recovers enough to go back to work in France she learns that a man calling himself Colonel Prescott has inquired about her and a little detection reveals that there is no Prescott and Bess' life may be in danger.
Meanwhile her father's former batman, Sergeant Brandon, is behind enemy lines with a platoon of gurkhas trying to discover the identify of a German spy thought to be among the British soldiers. When he is injured and cannot help her Bess finds she is reluctant to trust anyone, just when she is in more danger than ever before.
Charles Todd, of course, is really a mother and son team, Caroline and Charles Todd, who live in Delaware and North Carolina.