• The Shattered Tree

  • A Bess Crawford Mystery
  • By: Charles Todd
  • Narrated by: Rosalyn Landor
  • Length: 9 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (499 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Edgar Award winner, Mary Higgins Clark, 2017.

World War I battlefield nurse Bess Crawford goes to dangerous lengths to investigate a wounded soldier's background - and uncover his true loyalties - in this thrilling and atmospheric entry in the best-selling "vivid period mystery series" (New York Times Book Review). 

At the foot of a tree shattered by shelling and gunfire, stretcher bearers find an exhausted officer shivering with cold and a loss of blood from several wounds. The soldier is brought to battlefield nurse Bess Crawford's aid station, where she stabilizes him and treats his injuries before he is sent to a rear hospital. The odd thing is the officer isn't British - he's French. But in a moment of anger and stress, he shouts at Bess in German. 

When Bess reports the incident to Matron, her superior offers a ready explanation. The soldier is from Alsace-Lorraine, a province in the west where the tenuous border between France and Germany has continually shifted through history, most recently in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, won by the Germans. But is the wounded man Alsatian? And if he is, on which side of the war do his sympathies really lie? 

Of course Matron could be right, but Bess remains uneasy - and unconvinced. If he was a French soldier, what was he doing so far from his own lines...and so close to where the Germans are putting up a fierce last-ditch fight? 

When the French officer disappears in Paris, it's up to Bess - a soldier's daughter as well as a nurse - to find out why, even at the risk of her own life. 

©2016 Charles Todd (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Shattered Tree

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

Excellent series

I love this series about Bess Crawford, a battlefield nurse from WWI. Always well-written, filled with interesting historical detail, and completely engaging. This one largely takes place in Paris, where Bess is recovering from a wound. Although I wait eagerly for each precious episode of this series (and its companion series about Ian Rutledge) to come out, I found this one a tiny bit of a disappointment. Everything is as good as always, with characters, plot development, and narration, but the part I struggled with was the premise of the story itself. I felt it was a bit of a stretch that anyone would spend as much time tracking down someone with as little reason (and under wartime conditions) as in this case--the fascination and urgency to find one soldier about whom she had uneasy suspicions. Still, if you don't get hung up on that, it is as good as all the books written by Charles Todd, and I would gladly recommend it!

9 people found this helpful

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Better than the last one

Thankfully this was better than the last few. I had been discouraged that the series was fading. I hadn't enjoyed the previous books as much as earlier ones. This one restored, somewhat, my enjoyment of the story of Bess Crawford.

The mystery was interesting. I'm still not quite sure how Bess figured it out. I was listening at night; I might have missed something. I know I missed having more Simon in the story.

The narration was good. Rosalyn Landor is one of my favorites.

Since the war is winding down, Sister Crawford will have a future to think about. I'll look forward to the next book - more than I did this one.

7 people found this helpful

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Tiresome

Would you try another book from Charles Todd and/or Rosalyn Landor?

Love Rosalyn Landor, but would think twice before trying Charles Todd

Any additional comments?

The plot was ridiculous and it was so formulaic and tired that I had to abandon ship about halfway through. Each time the protagonist is on the verge of finding out something important, a taxi suddenly drives by, or some other lame plot device interrupts the progress of the already limping plot. After several dozen of these plot-slowers, and the fact that the protagonist doesn't divulge what she knows about the suspect to anyone, even though it would move the plot along much more rapidly, I felt that listening to the book was about as enjoyable as Chinese water torture.

6 people found this helpful

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not my favorite...

am a fan of Charles Todd but really struggled with this one...I never could get into the story and the plot seemed too far fetched. I usually enjoy the Bess Crawford tales. I like the mix of mystery and history...WWI and sometimes the Raj. I couldn't sustain an interest in this particular story no matter how many times I tried...starting at chapter one.

he mix of mystery and history

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent Audiobook

Wonderful story! Performance excellent, story, itself just as always with this series, right on top and the historical setting of the near end of World War I is one of my favorite times.

3 people found this helpful

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Contrived, confusing & boring

Not at all up to previous Todd books. No real motivation for plot twists. It seems Todd has run out of ideas. Tedious ... I felt no empathy for any member of this confused story.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Requires a great suspension of disbelief

I found that there were simply too many instances of Bess's behaviour that did not suit a character who is supposed to be intelligent. As a nurse, she repeatedly ignored her own health. As someone who was experienced in previous investigations, she seemed to ignore signals about where to place her trust and mistrust to the point of irrationality.

I very much liked the Bess Crawford character and those of her family to whom I was introduced in the first few books of the series. I hope the authors find their way back to adventures more grounded in (fictional) reality that allow for easier suspension of disbelief.

As usual the Great Rosalyn Landor delivers the many varied characters flawlessly. The authors are very lucky to have her.

1 person found this helpful

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Solid Bess Crawford installment

It’s easy to see how this novel has won awards. In lieu of her typical approach of relying on family connections to research leads and the charming but gullible habit of spilling way too much information to everyone she meets, Bess is in a much trickier situation in this novel. She is in unfamiliar territory both geographically and intellectually and without having anyone to trust, the mystery is engaging in a fresh way. Though I missed Simon Brandon terribly, this new approach works. Subplots considering espionage and desertion are interesting while musings on the variety of injuries inevitable in this kind of warfare continues to unfold in this book. While some tired tropes are overly relied upon (endless ‘Gallic’ shrugs imbued with ‘so much’ meaning, ‘effortlessly stylish’ Frenchwomen, Bess underplaying her serious injuries and comparing her own statements to those of her patients), this novel manages to suspend disbelief and keep you interested in the fates of most characters. The flaws, unfortunately, lie in Landor’s performance. Here, again, she cannot master the American accent (though her French accents are varied and nuanced). As a result, Captain Barkley is whiney, patronizing, and interfering, when I actually think the authors intend him to be gallant, chivalrous, and solicitous. This might be one to skip on Audible and read if you are able. Having said all that, I do think the novel as a whole misses out on some character development. The vast majority of French characters are unpleasant, rude, and generally violent. I think this is due to a carelessness at the editing stage rather than stereotyping French people (racism?) but if I were French, I think I’d have been offended at the overall depiction of the temperament of my countrymen. The other cultures seem more consistently represented with diversity in characterization. Still, I’m eager to read the next installment and reading them in order has been fun!

1 person found this helpful

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Another great read

Loved it, wish there was more Simon in it, but great story nobe the less.

1 person found this helpful

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Engrossing Story

The Shattered Tree is a tight well written novel. There are lots of plot twists and engaging characters. This is the second Bess Crawford novel I have listened to and I will look for another one

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jehanna
  • 09-21-21

Great story of hate, love, revenge and redemption

Set at the closing of the first world war when people had seen and done too much and were desperate for it to end. It's a story that perhaps relies on coincidence a little too heavily, but other than that it's absorbing and interesting with a few twists that are not signposted heavily. I have read or listened to all this series and its just as good as the others. There is great historical accuracy and it really reflects the weariness of the people and the hopelessness of it ever ending or of there being anything good to come. Having said that it's not as depressing as I made that sound and there is a feeling of hope and satisfaction at the end that some things are back as they should be.

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  • Rogayah
  • 09-12-16

The path to Hell

I was disappointed in this book. Bess Crawford seems to be behaving like a spoilt child, not a responsible nurse that her alter ego assumes. At the front she is sensible, but in Paris where she meant to be convalescing she gads about like a spring lamb. I am sure if I were wounded such actions would not be possible. She does seem to be very silly in her reluctance to confide in Simon or one of the other officers around her.

I am sure I will buy more of this series, hoping that this is an aberration, because she cannot go on as a one-man band or Wonder Woman. It really is becoming too improbable.