Having recently been introduced to New York Times Bestselling author team Charles Todd and the Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery Series, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review the seventh book in the Bess Crawford Mystery Series, A PATTERN OF LIES.

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 Times bestselling 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.

Bess has been behind the lines as a Sister in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service during WWI and for several years has witnessed many great and terrible tragedies. However, through all the brutality and inhumanity, Bess is able to keep her positive prospective. I love Bess’s practicality and her loyalty to those she has come to honor and respect. It is that respect, and a heavy desire for justice, which drives Bess to discover the truth about the horrific Ashton Gunpowder Mill explosion — at her own peril.

The quality of the writing is superb and kept this reader engaged from the first page to the last.

As with the Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery Series, Charles Todd does a masterful job of setting up the mystery, while giving the readers dark glimpses into the hell on earth that was WWI. Unlike Ian Rutledge’s third person perspective, however, we read Bess’s adventures from a first person perspective. The Todd’s weave a masterful tale of intrigue, deceit, the follies of gossip — especially in a small town, duty and family pride.

The quality of the writing is superb and kept this reader engaged from the first page to the last. While this is a novel which can stand on its own, I believe it would benefit the readers to start with the first book in the series as I was a little confused regarding Bess’s relationship with Simon and Lassiter, but I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series (which I have already purchased) and filling in the gaps.

My only complaint, is that I wanted a little more resolution at the end. Perhaps I just didn’t want the book to end, but I felt there were still a few unanswered questions. All-in-all, however, this is a must read for lovers of historical mystery, like myself, and I look forward to being better informed of Bess Crawford’s backstory when the next book in the series is released.

Buy Links:

amazonbuttonBarnes & Nobleibooksbuttonkobobutton2bookdepository
Short URL:

About the Reviewer

Dayna Linton
Dayna Linton - Dayna is the very busy divorced mother of four "exceptional" children. She spends her time running not only this website but is also the founder and President of Rising Phoenix Charitable Foundation ( - a charitable organization which benefits women and children's causes. Dayna is a firm believer in the worth and value of individuals and hopes to help all embrace who they are, nourish themselves and then "pay it forward" by helping others around them to do the same. In her spare time, Dayna enjoys reading anything she can get her hands on and hopes to someday have the time to write a book herself. Dayna is also an avid lover of film and the process that goes into making them. From an early age, she remembers watching the Academy Awards with her mom and cheering on her favorites. When Dayna was little, she just knew she was going to be a big star someday and she would practice in front of a mirror accepting her Oscar. Dayna took four years of drama, which she loved, but found her true passion was dancing. Even today you can catch Dayna dancing just about everywhere she goes, including beaches in the moonlight ...