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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 hous 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.


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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 hous 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.

30 review for A Pattern of Lies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cora

    If this was the only Bess Crawford mystery I had ever read, I would have really liked it. As it is, I have read them all so far, and I am increasingly frustrated with the absence of a personal life (or at least the absence of a clear idea of what Bess THINKS of her personal life). She is something of an enigma always, because while the books are written in the first person, we do not see a lot of personality, just what she thinks of the progress of the current mystery. I do not need her to be ma If this was the only Bess Crawford mystery I had ever read, I would have really liked it. As it is, I have read them all so far, and I am increasingly frustrated with the absence of a personal life (or at least the absence of a clear idea of what Bess THINKS of her personal life). She is something of an enigma always, because while the books are written in the first person, we do not see a lot of personality, just what she thinks of the progress of the current mystery. I do not need her to be madly in love with Simon, but I do want to know what she thinks of him and of Sergeant Lassiter (the two most consistent non-relative males in her life), besides just being grateful for their help and fond of them both. I will most likely continue to read these books, because they are well written and take place in a time that interests me, but I will probably also continue to feel frustrated every time I finish one...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    I hoped I would like this book, I had no idea how much I would come to love it. It's not always easy to start a series with the latest book instead of with the first, but this one was easy to get into. Bess Crawford is a nurse during WW1 and she spends a lot of time in France tending to the wounded soldiers and that is how she got to know Mark Ashton. Now, later on, she runs into him again, this time in England where he is visiting his family before getting back to France. She learns that his fam I hoped I would like this book, I had no idea how much I would come to love it. It's not always easy to start a series with the latest book instead of with the first, but this one was easy to get into. Bess Crawford is a nurse during WW1 and she spends a lot of time in France tending to the wounded soldiers and that is how she got to know Mark Ashton. Now, later on, she runs into him again, this time in England where he is visiting his family before getting back to France. She learns that his family is having a troublesome time. Some time before the Ashton Gunpowder Mill in Kent exploded and killed over a hundred men and even though it was judged to be a tragedy are there a lot of rumors in the village that Mark's father Philip is behind the explosion. Someone is feeding the people in the village with wicked rumors and Bess witness herself how the people treat the Ashton. Who is behind the rumors and why is the person hell-bent on ruining the Ashton? It didn't take me long to get swept into the story in this book. Then again a well written historical fiction is something I always love to read, especially one with a mystery involved. Bess (Not Mary, for some reason I try to write Mary Crawford, but I think that's because she reminds me of Mary Russell from the Laurie R. King series) Crawford is not an amateur sleuth, she is a nurse, home on a leave and soon back to France and that is why she gets involved with Ashton case, partly because she saw how the Ashton was treated and her witness Philip Ashton getting arrested, but also because the only witness is in France fighting and she is the one that can try to get to him to get Philip Ashton free. But nothing is that easy and trusts me sometimes the book is really nerve-racking to read. One thing I truly enjoyed reading this book was that there was no romance between Mary Bess and any of the male characters. That was refreshing, sometimes I feel that romance takes up a too large role in books and it sometimes gets in the way of the story or it gets too cheesy. But I do admit that even though there is no romance have I started to ship her with Sergeant Lassiter, the wonderful Aussie she turns to in France for help to finding the witness. He is flirtatious and I have completely lost my heart to him (Just think Hugh Jackman in a WW1 uniform) and I hope to God if in the future Bess do find a sweetheart it will be him. I recommend this book warmly to anyone that wants to read a really good historical fiction; you can read this book without having read any book before. I received this copy from William Morrow through Edelweiss in return for an honest review! Thank you!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    Once again Sister Bess Crawford, WWI nurse, investigates a mystery. This time, she's helping an army officer prove his father's innocence in a horrific gunpowder factory explosion. The Ashtons live in a small village near the coast in Kent, and Philip Ashton, mill owner, is arrested on suspicion of causing the explosion two years in the past which killed and injured a great many villagers. The town, including the police, is convinced that he is responsible, and his whole family is shunned and su Once again Sister Bess Crawford, WWI nurse, investigates a mystery. This time, she's helping an army officer prove his father's innocence in a horrific gunpowder factory explosion. The Ashtons live in a small village near the coast in Kent, and Philip Ashton, mill owner, is arrested on suspicion of causing the explosion two years in the past which killed and injured a great many villagers. The town, including the police, is convinced that he is responsible, and his whole family is shunned and subjected to harassment. Bess is equally convinced that he is innocent and she uses her status as a nursing sister at the front, and her Army contacts via her father, to help figure out what really happened. While I enjoy this series, I am finding Bess to be a flattish character. She has a strong sense of justice, a determined outlook, and an inquisitive nature. The series starts at the beginning of the war, and by now, the Armistice approaching. The world has changed, but Bess hasn't. Although the story is told from her perspective, there's no sense of what she's really thinking or feeling, at any time. She has no personal relationships beyond her family ties, and no sense of personal conflict that make characters interesting. I will continue to read this series, but would like to see some change in Bess.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    Excellent premise, excellent story development ... very unsatisfying conclusion. This story is about a town full of ignorant people who turn on an innocent person and set out to destroy him and his family. But when the plot is unravelled and the source of the false rumors is found, there are two huge problems. One, the cause makes no sense, or at least not enough sense. And two, there is no follow through to make the townspeople face and accept the horrible things they did. Bess just says "Oh we Excellent premise, excellent story development ... very unsatisfying conclusion. This story is about a town full of ignorant people who turn on an innocent person and set out to destroy him and his family. But when the plot is unravelled and the source of the false rumors is found, there are two huge problems. One, the cause makes no sense, or at least not enough sense. And two, there is no follow through to make the townspeople face and accept the horrible things they did. Bess just says "Oh well" and goes back to France. A perfectly awful ending. I have enjoyed the Todd novels for some time, but this one fell far short of the mark.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This has been a good series showing a side of WWI —dealing with the wounded as Sister Bess Crawford, a nurse near the battlefront often deals with more than medical issues. But with this seventh in the series, it seems to be like the war itself, never-ending. I agree with some others commenting that Bess doesn’t seem to have a personal life. There have been several opportunities for at least to have a boyfriend, if not a love affair. I checked and there are two remaining books in the series, and This has been a good series showing a side of WWI —dealing with the wounded as Sister Bess Crawford, a nurse near the battlefront often deals with more than medical issues. But with this seventh in the series, it seems to be like the war itself, never-ending. I agree with some others commenting that Bess doesn’t seem to have a personal life. There have been several opportunities for at least to have a boyfriend, if not a love affair. I checked and there are two remaining books in the series, and it’s not until number nine in the series does the war end. So I’m not sure I’ll read anymore of the series. I do, however recommend the series for a picture of WWI from a point of view different than the war itself.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality The title may be “pattern of lies” but the end result became a design for destruction. While this is a murder story, it is also, and more significantly, a story about the evil that men (and women) do, and man’s (and woman’s) inhumanity to their fellow humans. And that’s what makes this one so chilling. It’s not the original murder, it’s the mob mentality that takes over a small town and very nearly hounds an innocent man to his death. As we have found out al Originally published at Reading Reality The title may be “pattern of lies” but the end result became a design for destruction. While this is a murder story, it is also, and more significantly, a story about the evil that men (and women) do, and man’s (and woman’s) inhumanity to their fellow humans. And that’s what makes this one so chilling. It’s not the original murder, it’s the mob mentality that takes over a small town and very nearly hounds an innocent man to his death. As we have found out all too often in modern times, the cover-up is often nastier and more costly than the original crime. This particular instance takes that truism to new heights. Or perhaps that should be depths. Something horrible happened in a small town in Kent. In 1916, the gunpowder mill exploded, killing over 100 men and putting a big dent in explosives production right after the Battle of the Somme. It was a heavy blow for the British Army to lose one of their best producing explosives factories, but it was an even bigger blow for Cranford, the small town that provided the workers for the mill. Not only did most families lose a breadwinner, but the mill’s production was moved elsewhere, and the town never recovered economically. Kent is near the Channel, so the Army conducted an investigation into the cause of the explosion and the fire that followed it. They determined that there had been no sabotage, by the Germans or anyone else, and that the tragedy was just a terrible accident. At the time, everyone seemed saddened but satisfied. Bess Crawford visits Cranford in 1918, two years after the tragedy, only to find that someone or something has revived all of the horror and all of the blame-seeking in this village. She visits one of her former patients, Mark Ashton, and his family. The Ashtons owned the mine, and suddenly, out of the blue, someone is conducting a malicious rumor campaign that places the blame for the explosion squarely on Mark’s father Philip’s shoulders. Philip Ashton is arrested for multiple murder while Bess is visiting. The question is, who started up all the horrible rumors? And why? Who benefits from not just putting Philip Ashton in jail, but also terrorizing his family and even trying to get his poor innocent dog put down? There is a campaign of terror being waged against the Ashton family, and by the point that Bess becomes involved, every single person in Cranford is involved, including the police. Everyone lost someone in that explosion, and everyone has decided to blame the Ashtons for their grief. Whether that blame is justified or not. Bess, with her dogged determination, follows the trail of heartless evil back and forth across the Channel, from the battlefields of France to the civilian warfare in Cranford. As more and more lies spring up in Cranford, more and more soldiers with even a tangential connection to the original tragedy turn up dead at the hands of their fellow British soldiers. It is up to Bess, with a little help from her father and her network of former patients in the Army to track down the horrible truth - before it is too late for both Philip Ashton and for Bess. Escape Rating A: I loved this book, but I don’t think it’s a good place to start the series. If you love historical mysteries or the World War I period, A Duty To The Dead would be a much better starting point. But I love Bess Crawford. So often in historical fiction, when there is a female protagonist the author needs to invent a reason for the heroine to be atypically involved in the wider world. With Bess, those reasons are built into the period and her character organically, and it works so well. Bess is a trained combat nurse during World War I. This provides a reason for her education and attitudes, while at the same time she acknowledges that there are still limits on her behavior and movements. While it seems strange to 21st century readers, Bess really does have to be concerned about the appropriateness of her behavior and appearance at all times, or she may lose her position in the nursing profession. She can be up to her elbows in blood and guts one day, and have to worry about whether the nursing service will think her accommodations unsatisfactory to the reputation of said service the next. She is also more open-minded than we think of for the period. Again, some of that is her training, back to the blood and guts. Her sometimes cynical view of human behavior is born out of her actual experience in the war. She knows how badly people of all ranks behave because she has to sew up the results on an all too frequent basis. Also, her experience of the world is broader than most women of her class because her father has been a serving officer in the British Army for decades, and her mother “followed the drum” going with him and taking Bess to far-flung postings in the British Empire. So when Bess sees something wrong, she looks for a way to right that wrong, whether it is a medical emergency or a miscarriage of justice. She doesn’t sweep things under the rug, because that’s where germs fester and grow. She brings things out into the light where they can be identified and if necessary, surgically removed. The story in Cranford is one that tugs at her because she can see how wrong it is, and how hard it is to fix. Also, from her outsider’s perspective it makes no sense. That there would have been suspicion at the time, yes, that’s both logical and human. But that the suspicion has not just resurfaced but become pervasive two years later? There must be a reason and Bess, as usual, is determined to find it no matter how much danger she throws herself into along the way. What sticks in the mind in this story is not the motive for the rumor campaign, but the way that everyone in the village jumps onto the bloody bandwagon. We see mob mentality at its worst, and it is both frightening and disgusting. But we know it is all too possible. As glad as I was to see evil get punished and good triumph, I would have loved to have seen the aftermath. How does the falsely accused recover from all this enmity? One might manage to forgive, but forgetting would be impossible. How does life proceed in this small village where people have willfully torn the social fabric to pieces? It haunts. Good stories do that.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    complex plotting, abrupt end I really like the way the Chas. Todd team writes, though I do feel the Bess Crawford mysteries is weaker generally than their original series. In particular, in the last few books, there's been an explosive denoument and then a very weak "ending" that really isn't. When you, the authors, have the reader's adrenaline all riled up, you've got to do something with it. You can't just offer an almost inconsequential exchange between Simon and Bess - even if it is about the complex plotting, abrupt end I really like the way the Chas. Todd team writes, though I do feel the Bess Crawford mysteries is weaker generally than their original series. In particular, in the last few books, there's been an explosive denoument and then a very weak "ending" that really isn't. When you, the authors, have the reader's adrenaline all riled up, you've got to do something with it. You can't just offer an almost inconsequential exchange between Simon and Bess - even if it is about the war's ending - then leave without saying goodbye, even. I turned the page expecting there'd be Something more...but no, that was it, just run the credits and turn off the lights.... You've got to start wrapping things up better. What about Mrs. Ashton? She was a strong interesting character that we'd spent a lot of time with, but once the mystery was solved, you abandoned her completely. What about Clara and Mark? Were they just puppets that you got tired of? It begins to feel like you don't care about any of your characters but Bess and Simon... Anyway, please think about it from our point of view, hm?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Staci

    The Bess Crawford Series is an enjoyable cozy mystery series set in England during WWI. Main character Bess Crawford is a nurse and a bit like Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote (telling my age a bit with that comment). Bess is continually stumbling across murders and helping to solve them. In A Pattern of Lies, Bess helps solve a two year old crime in which a 100 factory workers were killed in an explosion. The explosion and its severity were based upon fact. There is a lot of detail provided The Bess Crawford Series is an enjoyable cozy mystery series set in England during WWI. Main character Bess Crawford is a nurse and a bit like Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote (telling my age a bit with that comment). Bess is continually stumbling across murders and helping to solve them. In A Pattern of Lies, Bess helps solve a two year old crime in which a 100 factory workers were killed in an explosion. The explosion and its severity were based upon fact. There is a lot of detail provided to help paint the picture of environment. I have a difficult time believing a nurse would be given as much leave time as Bess is given in the series, but perhaps that is on target too. I especially enjoyed the return of Sergeant Lassiter in A Pattern of Lies. As always, Simon and Colonel Sahib are great contributors to the story line. While the series is becoming rather more of the same, it is an enjoyable same and I plan to continue reading this series.

  9. 5 out of 5

    KylaS

    I listened to the book on CD and it was well read. Even so, I would have appreciated a bit faster pace in the story itself. Sometimes I felt the descriptions of unrelated things bogged the story down, as well as repetitions of the plot to that point in the story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Huether

    I won this Book through Goodreads First-Reads. Thanks Goodreads. The setting is WWI in France and England. Nurse Bess Crawford is a very caring nurse that is always looking for the truth. After an Ammunitions Powder Mill blows up and kills many workers. The owner is in prison awaiting trial. She helps the authorities and military find the person responsible.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen (Kat) Smith

    I don't know what the draw if for mystery's and perhaps it is that we love to feel like we are contributing to solving the unknown. Set against the backdrop of WWI, as readers immerse themselves into the nursing duties of Bess Crawford. It is a time where nursing was just beginning to grow their grassroots and it wasn't a pretty way to get involved for women to help in the war effort. It is a time of unsanitary conditions, amid the begins of medical procedures while bombs and shells are going of I don't know what the draw if for mystery's and perhaps it is that we love to feel like we are contributing to solving the unknown. Set against the backdrop of WWI, as readers immerse themselves into the nursing duties of Bess Crawford. It is a time where nursing was just beginning to grow their grassroots and it wasn't a pretty way to get involved for women to help in the war effort. It is a time of unsanitary conditions, amid the begins of medical procedures while bombs and shells are going off all around. Where sleep and a good meal are the blessings one can hope for. An explosion at the Ashton Powder Mill in Kent has claimed the lives of a hundred men, and like everyone involved they want answers to what happened. As time presses on, this is written off as simply an accident from war efforts and soon it is swept under the rug. But rumors don't like to lie in the dark, and soon hints at murder rock the Ashton family and it seems the only one who can help provide the answers has been dispatched to the frontlines. Will Bess be able to help unravel the pattern of lies to help end the persecution of the Ashton family or will she become the next target of the killer at large? I received Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. Aside from a complimentary copy of the novel, I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions found here are strictly my own. I am a huge fan of anything pertaining to WWI and love that once again readers find themselves back in the thick of things with Nurse Bess Crawford. I love her character because besides being a strong female nurse, she is not afraid to shatter the stereotypes we might have as a heroine solving mysteries while the war rages around her. It isn't easy being sleep deprived and moving from place to place where she is needed the most and always has her allies watching her back when it counts. I can't wait for more future novels from Charles Todd because it is such a breath of fresh air to see strong willed female characters that stand firm in the face of adversity and thus the reason for my 4.5 out of 5 stars. This is the 7th novel in the Bess Crawford Mystery series.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Raven Haired Girl

    Visit Raven Haired Girl for other reviews and giveaways I'm a huge Charles Todd fan. I adore the writing, the setting, the smart mystery and of course Bess Crawford. This was a satisfactory installment but I need Bess to grow in her character. I understand wartime has alter lives, however, Bess is becoming predictable and boring, we know what to expect and, most importantly, what not to expect from her romantically and personally. Yes, we know of her family, her dedication to her job, a woman of Visit Raven Haired Girl for other reviews and giveaways I'm a huge Charles Todd fan. I adore the writing, the setting, the smart mystery and of course Bess Crawford. This was a satisfactory installment but I need Bess to grow in her character. I understand wartime has alter lives, however, Bess is becoming predictable and boring, we know what to expect and, most importantly, what not to expect from her romantically and personally. Yes, we know of her family, her dedication to her job, a woman of principles but we really don't know her singularly from all that's been generically fed to the reader. With the war closing I hope Todd reveals more of Bess, her enigma status is starting to become rote. Simon, Lassiter or an onslaught of men - just bring someone into the mix so we can have some life breathed into this once captivating series and character now growing unbearably stale. Can't say I was thrilled with the ending, abrupt closing considering the apex was adrenaline fueled, loose ends left dangling. Prefer a tidier wrap-up. Regardless of the future of Bess Crawford, Charles Todd certainly delivers with stellar writing along with a sophisticated mystery. Looking forward to more evolvement (fingers crossed) in the series.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    For those who love the mother/son team of Charles Todd, their new book is wonderful. It's towards the end of WWI and Bess Crawford is still going back and forth from England to the battle zone in Europe. A terrible fire and explosion has destroyed an armament factory in Kent. The Army ruled it an accident after first looking for German saboteurs . Now 2 years later, rumors are circulating that Philip Ashton , the owner of the factory purposely destroyed it. The entire town is buying the rumor a For those who love the mother/son team of Charles Todd, their new book is wonderful. It's towards the end of WWI and Bess Crawford is still going back and forth from England to the battle zone in Europe. A terrible fire and explosion has destroyed an armament factory in Kent. The Army ruled it an accident after first looking for German saboteurs . Now 2 years later, rumors are circulating that Philip Ashton , the owner of the factory purposely destroyed it. The entire town is buying the rumor and the Ashtons have become ostracized but Bess , who is friends with the Ashtons can't believe it. And with the help of some well placed associates and relatives she is determined to get to the bottom of the story. It may take several trips from the war zone to her home in London to the suburbs to get the answers and as usual she is determined. It also may put in harm's way. The pace is even throughout the story , which is a talent of Charles Todd. A perfect book to take on vacation.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Davie

    Seventh in the Bess Crawford historical mystery series set during World War I with this story in the autumn of 1918 near the end of the war and revolving around Sister Crawford. The action takes place between the frontlines in France and around Canterbury in Kent. My Take Todd had my heart rate going on this one. I could not see how they would ever be able to figure out what was going on. And what is with that police station?? Were they that unsupervised at the time? Were they that autonomous?? Su Seventh in the Bess Crawford historical mystery series set during World War I with this story in the autumn of 1918 near the end of the war and revolving around Sister Crawford. The action takes place between the frontlines in France and around Canterbury in Kent. My Take Todd had my heart rate going on this one. I could not see how they would ever be able to figure out what was going on. And what is with that police station?? Were they that unsupervised at the time? Were they that autonomous?? Surely the Colonel Sahib had a bigger network he could have tapped to push someone of a higher rank in the police into taking a peek? At least he did have Simon to send off on those errands. Why would a powder mill foreman have matches at work? Why wasn't Bess trying to find out more about Collier? He had been one of the principals at the time, and she's certainly spent a lot of effort to find others involved. Then again, people were much more insular at that time, ignorant of people's rights, and it was too easy to toss justice aside. Throw in loved ones who were grieving or dead, and it's a recipe for disaster. That insularity certainly didn't help when it came to that bloody family lawyer. What were they thinking keeping him on for that long? What really ticked me off, though, was what it all came down to in the end. That was the best Todd could do? All that for just that?? It does take all kinds, but…oh, boy…that ending simply didn't ring true for me. The guy must have been bloody stupid, in which case, how did he ever get assigned that job? While the ending was annoying, I do generally adore Todd's stories. Not only does Todd provide a more direct look at war from a field hospital's perspective, but Todd is so true to the time period. The clothing, the manners, the expected mores, the style of life for both classes. It pulls me into the period. Then there's Bess, Simon, and the Colonel. I do adore them. They want the best for everyone and will do whatever it takes. They're honorable people…and surprisingly forward in their thinking in "allowing" Bess to pursue her interests. Considering how women were treated at the time, it's quite progressive. I'm with Philip Ashton in some respects. People must know something of the man, of his care for the people who work for him, the mill's past record, and they should all have weighed in on his side. Especially his friends!?! I could wish Todd would write a follow-up some time in an upcoming story to reveal what happens later on. It's all so insidious. Hateful. What's worse is everyone around the Ashtons is lying. It's the cops' behavior, their attitudes, that explain why people don't trust them. It's that attitude that makes me adore cops like Eve Dallas and Lucas Davenport. There's an interesting paragraph in which Bess thinks of all the innovations that have come to the battlefield with this war. It was a War to End All Wars in so many ways technologically, socially, economically, psychologically, and mortally. Oh, lord, Lassiter gets in trouble with his commanding officer, and it sounds so like him, lol! I do love his character. "He told his commanding officer that three men just reduced in rank for insubordination were actually trying to keep Captain Maxwell from looking like a fool. And he added that it had been all but an impossible task from the start."It's weird how Britton keeps changing rank from private to corporal and back again. And the Allies are thrilled that the Americans have come to help. The Story A two-year-old tragedy is still stirring emotions in Cranbourne, the home of the former Ashton Gunpowder Mill. The explosion and fire were ruled an accident until suspicion and rumor begins to swirl around the village. It's pure chance that finds Bess Crawford visiting the Ashton family and experiencing the venomous show of hostility that is aimed at anyone associated with the Ashtons. The persecution vented upon the Ashtons raises Bess' ire, and she'll risk her own life to find the truth. The Characters Sister Bess Crawford is a nurse with Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service who works at various field hospitals on the frontlines in France. Her father, Colonel "Sahib" Crawford, may be retired, but he's hip-deep in the background along with his former batman, Sergeant-Major Simon Brandon. Her mother works tirelessly on the homefront with her charities and being a comfort to the wives and families left behind. Melinda Crawford is a cousin who lives in Kent. Mrs. Hennessey is Bess' London landlady. Mary and Diana are her flatmates. Captain, or rather, Major Mark Ashton was once one of Sister Crawford's wounded. Eloise had been the major's fiancée. Mrs. Helen Ashton is his very brave and determined mother. Mr. Philip Ashton is the very reserved father. Nan is Mr. Ashton's liver-and-white spaniel. Clara is the cousin in love with Mark. Their family home, an old abbey guesthouse, is in Cranbourne near the family's powder mill that blew up, killing over a hundred. Mrs. Byers is the housekeeper. Baxter seems to be a groundskeeper? Mrs. Lacey is the cook. Betty Perkins was one of the maids they had to let go. Mr. Groves is the ineffective family solicitor. Lucius Worley is a barrister. Florence Benning is the new witness who suddenly came forward after two years; her sister is George Tate's widow. Doctor Scott tried hard to treat Mr. Ashton but the police wouldn't allow it. Theodore Heatherton-Scott and his valet, Henry, arrive. He had a son, Lieutenant Scott, who had served under Colonel Crawford in India. Lieutenant Wilmont, Captain Hunt, and Sergeant "Granddad" Edgar have all written the major with news of his unit. Cranbourne Constable Hood could care less what happens to the Ashtons. Captain Collier had been the government's man overseeing work at the mill. Alex Craig had been a boatbuilder before the war and a pilot during the war until he was wounded and invalided out. Seems he was also interested in Eloise. Sergeant Rollins was a fisherman at the time; now he's a highly valued tank commander. Agatha Rollins is his despised sister with whom he has to share the family cottage. Mrs. Branch claims Nan killed three of her chickens. On the afternoon Bess had Nan on a leash while she was visiting Betty and Agatha. The ineffective Mr. Gardener is the vicar at the Church of St. Anne. Canterbury Police Station Inspector Brothers lost some people in the explosion and isn't interested in justice. Mr. Parry is a vicar and witness whom Brothers is doubting along with others. At the front Sergeant Lassiter is a very resourceful Australian who's taken a liking to Bess and can accomplish anything. Captain Maxwell is a young, green commander. Corporal Eustace never did send the papers in on the incident. Soldiers who have helped Bess include Sergeant Wills, Corporal Denton, Lieutenant Jamison, Lieutenant Harcourt, and Corporal Miller. Sergeant Hull was the recruiting officer in Devon. Major Atkins will take statements. The wounded include Lieutenant Harriman, Sergeant Overton is a tankman, Corporal Haines survived while his crew didn't, and Private/Corporal Charley Britton was in for trench foot and went sleepwalking. Lieutenant Henley visited Britton in hospital. Captain Thomas is running a fever while Captain Taylor died. Bess is toing and froing to England and back and always posted somewhere new. The people she works with include Sisters Herries, Hancock, Morris whom someone tries to suffocate, Anderson, and Cameron while the doctors mentioned are Lytton and Browning. The Cover and Title The cover is a golden afternoon in a wide open field, a line of trees running diagonally at the back. It's Bess in a pale gray cloche with an almost black ribband atop her done-up hair and a bloused deeper, gray dress with the smocking at collar and shoulders gathering the fabric in thin vertical gathers. It's a thoughtful pose, as Bess looks out over the fields, her arms crossed in front of her. The title is what this story is all about, A Pattern of Lies that everyone is too quick to believe.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    It amazes me that a mother and son who live in different states can consistently deliver these historically correct books that hold the reader's attention to the final denouement. I especially enjoyed A Pattern of Lies because the action takes place during a period I am interested in, World War I. The book is a continuation of the Bess Crawford Mystery series and relates the story when an explosion at Ashton Powder Mill in 1916 killed more than a hundred men. Two years later, the tragic event is It amazes me that a mother and son who live in different states can consistently deliver these historically correct books that hold the reader's attention to the final denouement. I especially enjoyed A Pattern of Lies because the action takes place during a period I am interested in, World War I. The book is a continuation of the Bess Crawford Mystery series and relates the story when an explosion at Ashton Powder Mill in 1916 killed more than a hundred men. Two years later, the tragic event is under investigation for murder even though it had originally been ruled an accident. Bess Crawford, a friend of the Ashton family, arrives in Kent for a visit not realizing what is happening. She meets Mark, son of the Ashtons, and notices that the villagers are shunning them. One goes as far as to throw an egg at their car window. Much description is given here of the swale that the town was built around and the importance of the Canterbury Cathedral. She describes the beauty of the colored glass window that I have seen for myself. This familiarity of the area added immensely to the interest in the story. While staying at the manor house, she discovers a pillow that had been stuffed behind a chair and notices that the stitches seem to be ragged. Taking a pair of nail scissors, she unpicked the stitching and saw a picture of the white cliffs of Dover and written beneath: INVICTA, an ancient motto of Kent. She believes the Ashtons may be related to the royal family of Henry Eighth. Bess is a nurse working in a hospital in London and goes back to care for injured men. She is assigned a room, but when she goes there, another girl is asleep in the bed. Bess goes to another room and learns later that someone had tried to kill the girl. She gets a message that Mr. Ashton has been arrested and tried to commit suicide in his cell. She asks for leave and returns to Cranbourne to check on Mr. Aston. She claims to be his cousin so the locals won't make more assumptions. She is shocked at the animosity directed at the family. One day while walking Nan , the family dog, a local woman accuses the dog of killing her chickens and files a complaint. The townspeople leave threatening notes and tried to start a fire at the house. Bess realizes she must find someone to help her clear their name. She learns the name of a man who used to work at the mill named Rollins and tries to locate him. She finds the man and asks him to go back and tell his story to the authorities, but the man who had caused the fire tries to kill him and Bess inside the Canterbury Cathedral. He uses a silk scarf to choke her like the one he had used on the girl who had taken her room. She finally manages to wrest it away from him and hits him repeatedly over the head. with her umbrella. Thank goodness it rains a lot in England. Mr. Ashton's name is cleared and all ends well. This is the best Charles Todd book I have read and I give it a sound five stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura Edwards

    Quite possibly, my least favorite book in the series. Well, finally, in BOOK SEVEN we're given a physical description of Bess. Bess has light brown hair and dark eyes, not the auburn hair and green eyes I was forced to ascribe to her on my own initiative. I'll just have to adjust the mental picture I conjured up around book three since there was never a prior description of the MAIN CHARACTER. Shame on the Todds for such a glaring oversight. I think the family of Philip Ashton was pretty stupid n Quite possibly, my least favorite book in the series. Well, finally, in BOOK SEVEN we're given a physical description of Bess. Bess has light brown hair and dark eyes, not the auburn hair and green eyes I was forced to ascribe to her on my own initiative. I'll just have to adjust the mental picture I conjured up around book three since there was never a prior description of the MAIN CHARACTER. Shame on the Todds for such a glaring oversight. I think the family of Philip Ashton was pretty stupid not to realize sooner than they did that a new lawyer was needed. The original law team was obviously entrenched with the other side and were making absolutely no efforts to defend Ashton. One annoying quirk in this book. Whenever Mark Ashton spoke about Philip Ashton to Mrs. Ashton, he always said "my father". Such as "...if she would be allowed to visit my father." Why would he talk in such a stiff, formal manner about his dad with his mom? Very awkward sounding. Wouldn't he just say "father" and leave off the possessive pronoun? Lastly, I'll be very curious to see who Bess chooses once the war ends. Any other time I'd be rooting for Sgt. Lassiter, but she and Simon were meant to be together. I'll be quite disappointed if she ends up with Sgt. Lassiter instead of Simon. If the Todds are paying attention to the hopes of their readers, count this as one vote for Simon Brandon.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    A Pattern of Lies 4 Stars When her train is delayed in Kent, WWI nurse Bess Crawford has a random encounter with a former patient and stumbles into a mystery. Someone is spreading malicious lies about Major Philip Ashton's family, and Bess is determined to get to the bottom of it when the vicious rumors turn deadly. Better than the previous installment, but it always amazes me that so many people allow Bess to meddle in their business, not to mention the fact that she is consistently able to uncov A Pattern of Lies 4 Stars When her train is delayed in Kent, WWI nurse Bess Crawford has a random encounter with a former patient and stumbles into a mystery. Someone is spreading malicious lies about Major Philip Ashton's family, and Bess is determined to get to the bottom of it when the vicious rumors turn deadly. Better than the previous installment, but it always amazes me that so many people allow Bess to meddle in their business, not to mention the fact that she is consistently able to uncover details about particular soldiers in the trenches of WWI. Nonetheless, the mystery in this one is quite compelling as it demonstrates the destructive nature of rumor and inuendo. It is very distrubing that people are so eager to believe terrible lies about their friends and neighbors in the face of virtually no evidence at all. As Mark Twain once said: "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." One aspect of the series that could be improved is the development of Bess's character as well as her relationship with Simon Brandon. The Todd's really need to get the action going more in these directions.

  18. 4 out of 5

    PennsyLady (Bev)

    Charles Todd (Author), Rosalyn Landor (Narrator), HarperAudio In 1916, at the height of the war, an explosion and fire at Ashton Gunpowder Mill in Kent killed more than one hundred men. Army investigation of the tragedy attributed it, most probably, to German subversive activity. In 1918, a web of hometown lies and suspicion emerge and attempt to credit the disaster to the owner, Philip Ashton. Bess attempts to help former patient (Major Mark Aston) and his family when resurfacing accusations result Charles Todd (Author), Rosalyn Landor (Narrator), HarperAudio In 1916, at the height of the war, an explosion and fire at Ashton Gunpowder Mill in Kent killed more than one hundred men. Army investigation of the tragedy attributed it, most probably, to German subversive activity. In 1918, a web of hometown lies and suspicion emerge and attempt to credit the disaster to the owner, Philip Ashton. Bess attempts to help former patient (Major Mark Aston) and his family when resurfacing accusations result in the arrest of the elder Ashton. The sense of time and place is precise, as I've come to expect of Charles and Caroline Todd. Rosalyn Landor , as narrator, excels as usual. 4 ★

  19. 4 out of 5

    LJ

    First Sentence: I didn’t know much about the little town of Cranbourne on the Swale in northwestern Kent, only that its abbey had been destroyed by a very angry Henry VIII when the abbot of the day refused to take the King’s side in certain matters. On leave from France and trying to get to her parents home, field nurse Bess Crawford runs into a former patient, Mark Ashton. Due to a train delay, Bess, is pleased to visit his family. On the way, Bess learns about mill tragedy that killed over a h First Sentence: I didn’t know much about the little town of Cranbourne on the Swale in northwestern Kent, only that its abbey had been destroyed by a very angry Henry VIII when the abbot of the day refused to take the King’s side in certain matters. On leave from France and trying to get to her parents home, field nurse Bess Crawford runs into a former patient, Mark Ashton. Due to a train delay, Bess, is pleased to visit his family. On the way, Bess learns about mill tragedy that killed over a hundred men, and a town that blames Mark’s father who is arrested while Bess is there. Being unable to travel on, Bess stays to comfort Mark’s family and do whatever she can to unravel the lies and learn the truth. Bess Crawford is a very interesting character. She comes from wealth and position, which means she is well connected. Yes as true of many young women of her time in similar positions, she also answered the need of her country and is a WWI field hospital nurse, serving in France and often transporting seriously-wounded soldiers back to England. Because of this, she is independent, intelligent and self-reliant. As the daughter of a military man who served in India, she has learned to adapt to all types of people and situations. Not only is Bess appealing, but there is Sgt. Major Simon Brandon, who originally served as her father’s batman and now serves in intelligence, and someone with whom one would like to see a relationship develop with Bess. Additionally, there is Sgt. Lassiter, the Aussie with the kookaburra greeting call and indomitable spirit. It is interesting how easily one can imagine the Aussie accent in his voice, just form the dialogue. While the mysteries always tie into the war, they also stand on their own. Todd ensures you sense the emotional banishment of the family involved by the townspeople. They also provide an excellent example of the way in which rumors start and grow, eventually being thought to be the truth. And yet…”…its Man who caused such pain and loss. You can rage at man.” The clues are well established with some good suspense that even puts Bess in danger. “A Pattern of Lies” is a well-done, traditional mystery with strong characters, a very good plot twist and a dramatic conclusion effectively set against the backdrop of life during WWI. A PATTERN OF LIES (Hist Mys-Bess Crawford-England/France-1918) – G+ Todd, Charles – 7th in series Wm. Morrow – Aug 2015

  20. 5 out of 5

    Luanne Ollivier

    Charles Todd returns with the latest (#7) in the Bess Crawford series - A Pattern of Lies. Bess is a Sister with England's Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. She has served her country since the beginning of the war in both France and England. It's 1918 and the hope is that the War will soon be over. A chance encounter on a leave plunges Bess into another mystery. (For in addition to being a stellar nurse, she's just as adept at solving mysteries) Mark Ashton, an officer and form Charles Todd returns with the latest (#7) in the Bess Crawford series - A Pattern of Lies. Bess is a Sister with England's Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. She has served her country since the beginning of the war in both France and England. It's 1918 and the hope is that the War will soon be over. A chance encounter on a leave plunges Bess into another mystery. (For in addition to being a stellar nurse, she's just as adept at solving mysteries) Mark Ashton, an officer and former patient invites Bess to his family home to visit with his mother. The family owns the Ashton Powder Mill in Kent - the scene of a horrific tragedy that killed over a hundred men. Ruled an accident by the Army, the villagers think differently. Bess is stunned by the hostility shown to the family. As the rancor - and the danger - rises, Bess agrees to see if she can help. There's a possible witness to the event that can clear patriarch Phillip Ashton's name - he's a tankman in France. Oh, I just love this series! I think it's the slow, meticulous building of clues, the measured connecting together of pieces of information, observations and snippets of conversation. It's such a change from my usual fast paced murder and mayhem mysteries. The thoughtful, careful pacing of the book lets the reader settle in to relax, enjoy and travel back in time. Todd does a fantastic job of bringing the war and the time period to life. Descriptions of time and place generate vivid mental images. I really enjoy the glimpses into the war nurses' everyday lives. A sense of honour, duty, and loyalty is infused in the character and the plot, again underscoring the time period. I like Bess - she's strong minded, strong willed, clever, caring and tenacious. Familiar supporting characters return - Bess's father, Colonel Sahib (I have such a strong mental image of this British officer who served in India with the Gurkha's), Simon and Sergeant Lassiter, a cheeky Australian officer who seems quite fond of Bess. There is attraction between Bess and the two men - I often speculate which one will be her choice. (The Aussie would be mine!) As the war is drawing to an end, I wonder where Todd will take this series in peacetime. This reader will be eagerly awaiting the next book! Read an excerpt of A Pattern of Lies. Fans of Maisie Dobbs would absolutely enjoy this series as well.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A great entry in this great-and-getting-even-better series. The plot is well done, with the author(s) aware of the questions they, and therefore the characters, need to ask--because the reader will. Such as, "Why is the pattern of lies directed at a whole family and not just the obvious person?" This enriches the book far beyond what it would have been if such questions had not been raised or explored. And the solution to the mystery is foreshadowed, credible, and satisfying. There's a lot of Be A great entry in this great-and-getting-even-better series. The plot is well done, with the author(s) aware of the questions they, and therefore the characters, need to ask--because the reader will. Such as, "Why is the pattern of lies directed at a whole family and not just the obvious person?" This enriches the book far beyond what it would have been if such questions had not been raised or explored. And the solution to the mystery is foreshadowed, credible, and satisfying. There's a lot of Bess Crawford traveling back and forth between England, where the mystery has its roots, and France, where she is working as a nurse in the First World War and trying to get more information about some mystery-related men who are serving in the military. One thing bugs me, and that is that every man Bess gets to know seems to be madly in love with her (although he knows better than to say so). She's a little too perfect and Nancy Drew-like at times. (She even has a very helpful father.) But I like Nancy Drew mysteries, and I really like Bess Crawford's series. It's clear that the war is about to end--will the series continue? Can Todd work in one more book before the coming Armistice? Or will we learn about Bess's post-war life? I'm staying tuned.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I didn't realize this was a series, and this is book 7 so I will now have to read the preceding 6 books. Bess Crawford is a military nurse in WWI who gets caught up in a mystery while home in England for a few days. The story goes back and forth between England and France as Bess often has to travel with injured soldiers being taken back to England. She meets up with an Army officer she had cared for some months before and learns his father is suspected of causing an explosion at a gunpowder pla I didn't realize this was a series, and this is book 7 so I will now have to read the preceding 6 books. Bess Crawford is a military nurse in WWI who gets caught up in a mystery while home in England for a few days. The story goes back and forth between England and France as Bess often has to travel with injured soldiers being taken back to England. She meets up with an Army officer she had cared for some months before and learns his father is suspected of causing an explosion at a gunpowder plant owned by the family. The father is soon arrested and charged with the murders of all the men who died in the explosion. The Army and local police seem to be covering up evidence and Bess sets out to solve what really happened. A story that held my interest.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Miki

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Another two-and-a-half star book - what's up with all these writers lately? A Pattern of Lies was going pretty well, with a plot line that was gripping. The war is winding down and everyone is on edge with anticipation and dread. Although Bess was her usual know-it-all self (not as obnoxious as the last book, thank goodness!), there was such an impression of menace and foreboding in the events that it was hard to put down. Then came the ending, and THAT balloon got popped. After all the buildup Another two-and-a-half star book - what's up with all these writers lately? A Pattern of Lies was going pretty well, with a plot line that was gripping. The war is winding down and everyone is on edge with anticipation and dread. Although Bess was her usual know-it-all self (not as obnoxious as the last book, thank goodness!), there was such an impression of menace and foreboding in the events that it was hard to put down. Then came the ending, and THAT balloon got popped. After all the buildup of so much tension, it was such a banal ending. I still like the Inspector Rutledge series by the same writer much better.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mainer207

    I just finished this and need some time to think about what I want to say about it. It's been a few days and I hate to admit that I was disappointed with this book. The first books in this series were fabulous. Can't stop reading kind of fabulous. Bess was smart and likeable and interesting. The attraction between Bess and Simon was fun to read. This latest book, and frankly the one before it, is dull. There's no spark anywhere. I hope the Todds are able to capture the essence of the beginning of I just finished this and need some time to think about what I want to say about it. It's been a few days and I hate to admit that I was disappointed with this book. The first books in this series were fabulous. Can't stop reading kind of fabulous. Bess was smart and likeable and interesting. The attraction between Bess and Simon was fun to read. This latest book, and frankly the one before it, is dull. There's no spark anywhere. I hope the Todds are able to capture the essence of the beginning of the Bess series and bring it to their next book - which I will listen to as soon as it's available, by the way. The narration was excellent.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    I only read this series occasionally, and while I always enjoy the first person perspective--and a woman's point of view--on war front and home front, this one seems lesser. Plot not as intricate or frankly as engaging. Landor's narration makes the best of the story. She captures characters and their emotions and shows tiny nuances--frustration, fear. Excellently read and careful management of pace and tone. It's a thoughtful story, as usual. Honestly, I think the only humor comes from Bess's Au I only read this series occasionally, and while I always enjoy the first person perspective--and a woman's point of view--on war front and home front, this one seems lesser. Plot not as intricate or frankly as engaging. Landor's narration makes the best of the story. She captures characters and their emotions and shows tiny nuances--frustration, fear. Excellently read and careful management of pace and tone. It's a thoughtful story, as usual. Honestly, I think the only humor comes from Bess's Australian swain and frequent source of info about the soldiers she seeks. Gritty, strong sense of the times, series characters, and unhurried pace.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    The seventh book in the Bess Crawford series and it doesn't disappoint. Bess, a Nursing Sister with the British in World War I, is asked to solve the mystery of what happened to cause an explosion and fire in a factory that killed over a hundred men. Her investigation takes her from the scene of the explosion in Kent to the Front Lines in France. The seventh book in the Bess Crawford series and it doesn't disappoint. Bess, a Nursing Sister with the British in World War I, is asked to solve the mystery of what happened to cause an explosion and fire in a factory that killed over a hundred men. Her investigation takes her from the scene of the explosion in Kent to the Front Lines in France.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kennedy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have really enjoyed past books in the Bess Crawford series, but this one not so much. Does Simon Brandon not have anything better to be doing besides following Bess all over France and England?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Good story, but the character development of Bess is very thin.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    Review: It is the fall of 1918 and we all know the War to End all Wars will soon be over but nursing sister Bess and everyone else doesn't realize that. Bess is home from France on a short leave and is stranded at the train station with no train to catch to London to visit her family. All the trains have been commandeered for troops. So she decides to see some of the sights and runs into a former patient she nursed 2 years ago and he invites her to his home with his parents. Once she gets there s Review: It is the fall of 1918 and we all know the War to End all Wars will soon be over but nursing sister Bess and everyone else doesn't realize that. Bess is home from France on a short leave and is stranded at the train station with no train to catch to London to visit her family. All the trains have been commandeered for troops. So she decides to see some of the sights and runs into a former patient she nursed 2 years ago and he invites her to his home with his parents. Once she gets there she is told there is trouble. The soldier's father is under suspicion of blowing up his own munitions factory and killing 100 workers in the village. The family is being terrorized by the people around them including a fire in the home. Bess decides to use her investigative skills to get to the bottom of this and prove the innocence of her host.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Technically DNF. I got halfway and was bored to tears. So I skipped to the last chapter just to find out who did it. I used to love the Bess Crawford novels, but I think the formula is boring now. She doesn't strike me as a clever investigator (ala Hercule Poirot) as much as a busybody who stumbles onto the solution to the mystery. Also, the other characters are stereotyped. Sadly, this is probably the last Charles Todd novel for me since I felt the same way about the Ian Rutledge novels after th Technically DNF. I got halfway and was bored to tears. So I skipped to the last chapter just to find out who did it. I used to love the Bess Crawford novels, but I think the formula is boring now. She doesn't strike me as a clever investigator (ala Hercule Poirot) as much as a busybody who stumbles onto the solution to the mystery. Also, the other characters are stereotyped. Sadly, this is probably the last Charles Todd novel for me since I felt the same way about the Ian Rutledge novels after the first few.

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