A Death in the Dales by Frances Brody – Review

Published by Piatkus

Publication date – 1 October 2015

Source – review copy


“The seventh fantastically quirky crime novel featuring amateur sleuth extraordinaire Kate Shackleton!

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 . . .”

4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers and this is my honest opinion of the book.

Kate Shackleton has taken her niece, Harriet, to the countryside to recuperate after an illness. It will also give Kate time to assess her relationship with Lucian Simonson. Staying in Lucian’s deceased Aunt Freda’s home Kate becomes aware that Freda was a witness to a murder 10 years previously and that she was adamant that the wrong person had been convicted and hung for the crime. Kate is at first reluctant to investigate but is soon caught up in the mystery.

Although this is only the second Kate Shackleton book I have read it was lovely to be back with the characters of Kate, Mr Sykes and Mrs Sugden. This time they are joined by Kate’s niece, Harriet, who adds another element to the story, keen as she is to be a detective, like her aunt.

The scenery and characters are well drawn. I could easily picture the village and the locals, some of whom have secrets to hide. The atmosphere and feel of the 1920s was portrayed in a great way and I found myself transported back to what I imagine a country village on 1926 would be like.

The mystery was engaging. Was the wrong man hanged ten years ago for the brutal murder of the local pub landlord? Another suspicious death throws confusion into the mix. What does the disappearance of a young boy and an old affair that ended years ago have to do with it. It was lovely to read along and play armchair detective, seeing if I could guess the culprit.

The Kate Shackleton investigations are what I like to call ‘gentle’ murder mysteries, if you’ll excuse the oxymoron. The blood, guts and gore aren’t there and this was a time before DNA so investigations are centred on brain power unsupported by science. There’s no swearing, violence is hidden and social hierarchy is shown to be important. They are books to curl up with on a rainy day, between episodes of Poirot and Miss Marple.

This is the seventh book in the series and though I prefer to read a series in order this could be read as a standalone. Whilst I’m waiting for the next book I’ll just have to go back to the beginning.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I really enjoy reading books where it’s possible to be an armchair detective – great review as always.


    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks. I think that is part of the appeal of crime fiction, the chance to pit your wits against the lead investigator and the villain 🙂


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