The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd is the 8th book in the Bess Crawford series by the mother and son team who write as Charles Todd.
Set in 1918 in the last throes of WWI, Bess Crawford, a nursing sister, overhears a wounded French soldier make an outburst in perfect German. When Bess questions this, it is suggested that the soldier may have been raised in Alsace Lorraine, annexed by the Germans in 1870, which would mean that speaking German would have become a necessity.
When Bess is injured by a sniper, she is sent to Paris to convalesce and coincidentally catches a glimpse of the soldier dressed in an American uniform. Her curiosity is again aroused, and she decides to investigate. What is the man's story? Is he a German spy--the one all of Paris has been searching for?
Hampered by her injury and a lack of her usual resources, Bess nevertheless proceeds in her own investigation (with quite a few subplots). Sort of hampered. Bess sure gets around after being shot, treated, then operated on for an infection caused by a portion of a button that was not removed during the first treatment. Tougher than many of the injured soldiers, our Bess.
The Todds write two series that have their beginnings in WWI, the original series features Inspector Ian Rutledge; later they added the Bess Crawford series.
The content and style of the two series differ, and I've always preferred the original series, which is darker and more psychological. DI Ian Rutledge is a victim of shell-shock and must struggle with his hallucinations of Hamish, who functions as a kind of Greek chorus. The earlier novels in the series deal with some of the most detrimental effects of WWI on both soldiers and society at large. The Inspector Rutledge novels are complex and intricately plotted--well-rounded characters and atmospheric settings.
The Bess Crawford series is more mystery and less psychological with more complicated, but less complex plots. They come across as intense cozy mysteries--still dealing with the casualties of war, but as sidelines to the mystery plots.
Historic Mystery. 2016. 304 pages.
The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner is yet another woman with amnesia story, but a rather predictable one that doesn't feel realistic. While it does begin with interest, the middle and the conclusion lose the sense of genuine suspense. Wrapped up nicely and tied with a bow.
The premise is interesting, if difficult to believe, but the characters had no real depth.
The novel was readable, but the comparison to Sharon Bolton is far-fetched. This is just my personal view of the book. There are many positive reviews.
Mystery. Dec. 27, 2016. Print length: 304 pages.