• An Impartial Witness

  • A Bess Crawford Mystery
  • By: Charles Todd
  • Narrated by: Rosalyn Landor
  • Length: 10 hrs and 54 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (910 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Tending to the soldiers in the trenches of France during the First World War, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford can't help but notice the photo of a young pilot's wife every time she tends to him. But then at the railway station, in a mob of troops leaving for the front, Bess glimpses a familiar face--the pilot's wife, with another man. Later, back in France, Bess sees a newspaper with a drawing of the woman's face on the front page. She'd been murdered--the very day Bess saw her. Bess is soon on the search for a devious and very dangerous killer - a search that will put her own life in jeopardy.

©2010 Charles Todd (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks America

What listeners say about An Impartial Witness

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Another entertaining Bess Crawford mystery

Charles Todd writes another solid Bess Crawford mystery. The performance is very good, as well.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

rather tedious, but series holds promise

I loved "Duty to the Dead," which is, I think, the first Bess Crawford mystery (similar to Anne Perry's Hester + Monk novels, but better written --but not as good as Jacqueline Winspeare's Maise Dobbs series). However, I found this installment of Bess Crawford needed more editing - There were minor inconsistancies; as well, neither the period description nor mystery seemed as clever to me as in "Duty to the Dead". I'll still listen to the next in the series should there be one and keep my fingers crossed for a tighter novel.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

So-so

I liked the first book in the series, but found the protaganist to be annoying in a Nancy Drew kind of way. Her connection to the crime and people she was "investigating" was so tenuous that everything she did could only constitute meddling. This second book uses exactly the same formula, but the connection between the investigator and crime is even more far fetched. Indeed, she jets (alright -- motorcars or trains) all over England and France to meddle in strangers' affairs based on a chance glimpse of a distraught woman on train platform. I will not bother with another Bess Crawford book unless the author gives her a real reason to be involved in solving the mystery.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Nurse Turned Sleuth

I agree with some of the other reviews. It seemed far-fetched that a WWI nurse would become so deeply involved in a murder when she was merely an "impartial witness", but I enjoyed following her through her interviews and her hope of saving an innocent wounded soldier from hanging, a man she had only just met. The story speaks to the reality and pain suffered by so many in England during WWI. It was worth the read.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

#2 IN ANOTHER GREAT CHARLES TODD SERIES!

I got hooked on author Charles Todd through is Inspector Ian Rutledge series. The Bess Crawford Mysteries are ALMOST as good, with the usual early murder in an unlikely location, followed by an amazing number of twists, turns, and red herrings which keep the reader off kilter until the very end. This is the 2nd in the series. I say this so you don't start out of order. Each book can stand on its own but subsequent ones make reference to prior crimes.

Bess is the only daughter of a highly decorated British colonel who has chosen nursing on the battlefields during World War I, rather than a comfortable, if loveless, marriage to a gentleman of her class. While she lacks the training and knowledge of Rutledge (a well-educated member of London gentry who chose law enforcement before fighting as an officer in the same war), Bess' criminal deductive skills come from what I took as "female intuition", a bit of a condensending insult to women then and now. This choice by Todd gives the Bess Crawford series less of an overall impact, especially since it takes place before the acceptance of such rudimentary criminal forensics like fingerprints, ballistics, the information provided by rigor mortis and livor mortis - all which would become critical components just a decade later. Bess kinda "stumbles" her way into solutions with the full force of the considerable resources and access to military and government documents and databases provided by her father.

The narrator is out of league here. While Landor is great with Regency, Edwardian, and Victorian romance books, her range of voices and dialects is limited, especially with respect to males. All of her men sound like upper-crust fops talking like their buttocks are clinched so tight that a hungry man couldn't get a shilling from between the cheeks. A major flaw is with the dialogue between women of the same class. If more than 2 are talking, the normally irritating "Bess said" or "Lady Stiff-Upperlip remarked" is sorely needed just to keep your place or you'll find yourself rewinding repeatedly throughout the book.

That said, this series is still worth listening to. Try to get them on sale if you can and start with Bess Crawford before the Rutledge books. Comparatively, she is merely a tasty appetizer to Rutledge's outstanding main course. (NOTE: I will post this same review for the others in the series, only changing the chronological order.)

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Forgettable

This could have been much better, but as it was written, no one was particularly interesting or likable, they all left me feeling distaste and boredom.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A new story teller

Loved the book and story line from a different era. The reader was excellent with female and male voices - really made
The book all that much better!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

a masterpiece!

Sometimes you are not in the mood for yet another English accented war story, and are about to give up, .......but this, but this......IS NOT usual fare in the least. I think if you only make it 10 minutes or so in, you'll start to sense something very intriguing is waiting. Very nicely paced and edited. I love the readers' normal voice, and the character of Bette is a phenom!! Brilliant thinker. This is almost epic like Herman Wouk, at least epic surroundings and the upbeatness of the period, when things were looking good. The upbeatness of an earlier, more mature understanding about things. It belongs to an era of good upbringings, before peaceniks, before we knew the unleashing of the final push of the "illuminati" to do foister off on the world the deep idiosies of their dumb, whiney, satanic minds. For Satan is first a whiner who was so unhappy w/ his created state, and let all know he wanted to be like the Most High in no uncertain terms, in a childish fit, just like all his lying children, who can't go zero to 80 in 4 seconds without pushing everyone out of the way on the freeway. Baby fits. "My" agenda is all that matters. Patience is for losers, they falsely reason, creating little wars wherever they drive, yet will talk "peace". Yeah, right.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Droning

This author duo is incredible, but this story sort of missed the mark. So many names and people involved, the excitement of the story is lost in too many details. Just goes on and on with no feel of an end in sight. I walked away feeling quite bored.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great characters

The characters are so real and believable and complex. It is easy to be absorbed and transported to a different time and place.