A runaway soldier forces nursing sister Bess Crawford to find a killer and clear her name during World War I.
Home from the battlefront on a three-day leave, Bess gets a puzzling assignment. Sgt. Jason Wilkins, a wounded soldier she doesn’t know, asks her to push his wheelchair when he receives a medal from King George at Buckingham Palace. Nor can she figure out why Wilkins wants her, instead of an orderly, to attend him afterward. The reasons become clearer when he goes missing: An orderly would have stayed the night in his room, whereas Bess, for delicacy’s sake, left him in privacy. Because of her accidental dereliction of duty to Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Services, Bess is given two weeks’ leave, which she uses to search for Wilkins. While on his trail, she learns that he’s now on the run because he’s been accused of murdering a man. Sgt. Maj. Simon Brandon, former personal servant to Bess’ father, insists on accompanying her in her quest to learn whether Wilkins is masquerading as a wounded major who tends to wander and shoot at people because he thinks he’s escaping from the Germans. Bess isn’t sure whether the major is Wilkins, who also had a head wound and was so heavily bandaged—more bandaged than he needed to be—that Bess never got a good look at his face. A third veteran on the loose and the human dramas she encounters along the way add to Bess’ challenges in finding Wilkins and absolving herself of unwitting complicity in the murder.
Bess’ sixth case recycles two motifs from her fifth (A Question of Honor, 2013): confused identity and blighted honor. Despite all the convenient happenstance and all the wounded veterans roaming the English countryside, Bess’ courage and determination triumph over all.