This was a book picked at random purely because of the beautiful cover design and the title. Frances Brody is a new author for me, I had never heard of her Kate Shackleton series. Inadvertently, I chose her latest, A Death in the Dales, the seventh Shackleton book. Now I plan to go back to the beginning. I didn’t struggle for lack of backstory, so I don’t think this is a series which must be read in order. It is 1926, Leeds, and Kate Shackleton’s niece is recovering from diptheria. Aunt and niece arrive in the Yorkshire Dales village of Langcliffe in the middle of the May Day celebrations, both in need of a holiday. There they are greeted by two men – the local doctor who has offered the loan of his recently deceased Aunt Freda’s house to Kate, and an elderly local man who presses into Kate’s hands a mysterious box. And so starts the unravelling of a murder, 10 years previously, of which Freda was a witness. Freda believed the wrong man was convicted and sentenced to death.
There is a lot going on in this story: the wrongly convicted murderer, the disappearance of a young farm boy, the courting of Kate by Freda’s nephew, the doctor, Lucian, another suspicious death, love entanglements and local secrets. Brody efficiently weaves together the various threads, setting murder against the beautiful but harsh backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales. There are lovely snippets of 1920s life, the cars, the fashion, the food, the Yorkshire dialect, and the aftermath of the Great War.
More than just a detective story, a period drama with strong female characters, a thoughtful reflection of the impact of the war on the lives of everyone, in city and country.
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If you like this, try:-
‘Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death’ by MC Beaton
‘Cover Her Face’ by PD James
‘An Uncertain Place’ by Fred Vargas
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A DEATH IN THE DALES by @FrancesBrody #bookreview http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1TM via @SandraDanby
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