A Death in the Dales by Frances Brody
Publishing Date: 1st October 2015
Series: Kate Shackleton #7
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Crime, Mystery
A murder most foul
When the landlord of a Yorkshire tavern is killed in plain sight, Freda Simonson, the only witness to the crime, becomes plagued with guilt, believing the wrong man has been convicted. Following her death, it seems that the truth will never be uncovered in the peaceful village of Langcliffe . . .
A village of secrets
But it just so happens that Freda’s nephew is courting the renowned amateur sleuth Kate Shackleton, who decides to holiday in Langcliffe with her indomitable teenage niece, Harriet. When Harriet strikes up a friendship with a local girl whose young brother is missing, the search leads Kate to uncover another suspicious death, not to mention an illicit affair.
The case of a lifetime
As the present mysteries merge with the past’s mistakes, Kate is thrust into the secrets that Freda left behind and realises that this courageous woman has entrusted her with solving a murder from beyond the grave. It soon becomes clear to her that nothing in Langcliffe is quite as it appears, and with a murderer on the loose and an ever-growing roster of suspects, this isn’t the holiday Kate was expecting . . .
„A Death in the Dales” is the second book by Frances Brody that I have read, and one that I eagerly awaited – I totally fell in love with Kate Shackleton and with her adventures, and what a joy it is to read a book about private investigator that doesn’t have any modern devices, such as internet, mobiles and other fancy helping things, and the only thing she can rely on is her own brain and logical thinking – it so refreshing.
Even though „A Death in the Dales” is a part of the mystery series featuring the above mentioned Kate (and also, for good measure, the ex – policeman, Jim Sykes and Kate’s housekeeper, Mrs Sugden), this book can be read and enjoyed as a stand – alone novel.
I have a feeling that there is a great successor growing just under Kate’s wings, her niece Harriet, whom the author introduces to us in this book. Harriet is young and has thirst for knowledge, and she by all means wants to be Kate’s assistant. Harriet is like her aunt, outruns the times she’s living in, they’re both intelligent and clever, and I totally adored the ways they conducted their investigations. Kate is, as always, discreet and knows no limits in her investigations, and even though she’s on holidays this time, her work comes first. And as usual, when Kate starts to investigate one thing, she soon finds herself involved in many other different matters, that starts to roll like a little snowball, to finally turn into a real avalanche. But no matter how much I like Kate, the story really gained a real speed when Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden arrive to the little town Langcliffe and take matters in their hands as well – they are the best addiction to the story, I think it wouldn’t be the same without them.
Investigations, you may ask? Yes, investigations, plural, because where Kate is, there are many mysteries to solve. I don’t want to give anything away because I don’t want to spoil your reading – and you MUST read this book! It’s elegant, clever, it has style and even though it takes part between the two wars, it reads like a modern story – but believe me, there is not a single second flat in this book, and it still feels like reading a book set in 1920′s – the vocabulary, the way the characters behave and talk, their clothes, it was so spot on and felt so realistic. One mystery carries the next, but yet the reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed with the plethora of information or puzzles.
There is such a feeling of peacefulness to this story. Of course, as it’s a cosy crime, there is murder and many other things that I didn’t expect, but it is told with style, in a gentle way, without unnecessary drama or pumping up the atmosphere. About the things I didn’t expect – it is really incredible how much the author squeezed between the covers of this book, and even though the events and situations were unexpected for me, they suit the story and fit in the plot wonderfully.
There are plenty of characters in this story, but they are very distinctive and I didn’t have any problems to know who is who and why. Each of the characters has their own story, and we have not only murder and a sentence of an innocent person, but we have children looking for brothers and sisters, mysterious death of a healthy man, farmers living secluded with their own secrets, love letters stolen and a little town that – this time – doesn’t know all the secrets! Perhaps it is so because they didn’t have internet in those times and people kept themselves to themselves. But back to the characters – they were all so significant to the plot, and their stories intertwined and made a brilliant, hooking book that I’ve read in two days – I couldn’t put it down. The author pays attention to all of the characters, and even if they are the background ones, I still had a feeling that I know them and that I can understand their actions.
There was also so much love to the details in the story, and I had a feeling that every single word is this of the utmost significance. The author puts a lot of effort to explain everything and to write things in such a way that we don’t feel confused, but yet she adds a mystery here and there and, in fact, we truly don’t know what we can expect and how it’s going to end, which I, personally, was loving. I wasn’t even trying to guess who’s the real murderer because I was sure that I’m going to be wrong, and so I let the author to take me with her on this brilliant journey, together with Kate and Harriet. Yes, I had a feeling that some of the threads were left open, such as Harriet plotting something with Suzannah, I had a feeling they are for some mischief or to investigate on their own, but this, in fact, didn’t spoilt the whole reading.
I have truly enjoyed this book, it has totally fulfilled my expectations. It felt so different, so fresh and so clever, a story written with a lot of subtlety and gentleness, and also with a great dose of humour. Even though the plot was complex and the author was adding new mysteries on the way, it was still a very neat, logical read, and the characters were brilliant representatives of this age. It was truly wonderfully pieced together and I really can’t wait for more Kate’s adventures.