In the aftermath of World War I, nurse Bess Crawford is caught in a deadly feud between two families in this thirteenth book in the beloved mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd.

Restless and uncertain of her future in the wake of World War I, former battlefield nurse Bess Crawford agrees to travel to Yorkshire to help a friend of her cousin Melinda through surgery. But circumstances change suddenly when news of a terrible accident reaches them. Bess agrees to go to isolated Scarfdale and the Neville family, where one man has been killed and another gravely injured. The police are asking questions, and Bess is quickly drawn into the fray as two once close families take sides, even as they are forced to remain in the same house until the inquest is completed.

When another tragedy strikes, the police are ready to make an arrest. Bess struggles to keep order as tensions rise and shots are fired. What dark truth is behind these deaths? And what about the tale of an older murder—one that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Nevilles? Bess is unaware that when she passes the story on to Cousin Melinda, she will set in motion a revelation with the potential to change the lives of those she loves most—her parents, and her dearest friend, Simon Brandon…

About the author(s)

Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother-and-son writing team, Caroline passed away in August 2021 and Charles lives in Florida.


“[Readers] are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford . . . While her sensibility is as crisp as her narrative voice, Bess is a compassionate nurse who responds with feeling.”
New York Times Book Review

“I love series that follow particular characters over time and through their experiences, so I automatically read the latest installments from . . . Charles Todd.” — Hillary Rodham Clinton

"Todd has few peers at both keeping readers turning pages for the reveal and making every character on those pages feel real. Those seeking emotional depth in their mysteries will be richly rewarded." — Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Bess is among the most compassionate and intelligent characters, whose observations on life and people are advanced for the era in which she lives." — The Sun-Sentinel (Florida)

“So much happens within this complex plot, and there is a level of suspense throughout the book that readers of the previous 11 novels haven’t experienced. Those who are aware of the historical events that drive this story will find themselves torn between the sentiments of the British and Irish characters. An Irish Hostage is yet another triumph for Charles Todd and one of the most memorable additions to the series.” — Book Reporter on An Irish Hostage

"The Crawford series has been consistently strong, each book as crisply written and suspenseful as the last." — Booklist on An Irish Hostage

“[A] fast-paced historical mystery…Bess demonstrates presence of mind under fire, strong nursing skill, and adept calls of judgment.” — New York Journal of Books on An Irish Hostage

“A captivating mystery of treachery and bravery during the post WWI Irish troubles!” — Fresh Fiction on An Irish Hostage

“Sensitive, beautifully written, disconcertingly familiar.” — Kirkus Reviews

“As with all other Bess Crawford mysteries, this one is historically accurate, entertainingly written, and thoroughly enjoyable.”  — New York Journal of Books

"As always, the mother-son writing team of Charles Todd does a magnificent job with atmosphere and dialogue, all while keeping their good-hearted heroine one step (but only one) ahead of the bad guys .” — BookPage on A Cruel Deception

"As usual, Todd mixes historical verisimilitude with exemplary character design and sharp plotting. Another fine entry in this popular series.” — Booklist on A Cruel Deception

“Terrific . . . A Cruel Deception shows that there are still plenty of stories left for Bess Crawford, and I cannot wait to see what happens next." — Book Reporter on A Cruel Deception