A Duty to the Dead is the first in a relatively new mystery series set during World War I

Selected by Jeanne Goodrich, executive director for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.

A Duty to the Dead (William Morrow, 2009), by a mother/son writing team that goes by Charles Todd, is the first in a relatively new mystery series set during World War I and featuring a battlefield nurse, Bess Crawford. The authors provide an absorbing glimpse into a time that was both more gentile and mannerly than our own, as well as inexorably shaped by battlefield casualties and impairments caused by a numbingly grotesque war. After narrowly escaping her own death on a sinking hospital ship, Bess resolves to deliver a dying man’s cryptic message to his family. She soon becomes engrossed in determining just what the message really meant and what dark secrets the family has been hiding.

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The singer/songwriter with an Old Vegas pedigree is about to move back to her native New Orleans. For her last local performance (for a while, at least), she paid tribute to her father, the late Las Vegas legend Louis Prima. She performed his hits: “Just a Gigolo,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Sing Sing Sing” and a rockin’ rendition of “Jump Jive an’ Wail.” And she told the story of how Louis sang “Pennies From Heaven” to her when she was a little girl; now she saves pennies as a reminder of him.

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