Following a pawn shop robbery, Kate Shackleton is recruited for her second ever case as a private investigator. Employed to locate the owners of the stolen items, she finds herself in Harrogate and mixes business with pleasure with a visit to the theatre. Needless to say, it isn’t long before Kate finds a body – stabbed in the gutter outside the theatre.
Before she can look into the death, the leading lady of the play disappears, a ransom note demanding £1000 from her grandfather. But as Kate starts to investigate, it seems that some people in town have some deep secrets… and the past is casting a long shadow.
I mentioned in my targets for the year that I’d neglected some authors, and one prime example of this is Frances Brody. I reviewed the first Kate Shackleton novel… wow, almost two years ago in preparation for a book signing at Formby Books. I bought the second book then and it’s been sitting on the shelf ever since. I’m an idiot sometimes. Anyway, the other day, I won a competition or something and Frances sent me a copy of her third novel, Murder In The Afternoon, so I figured it was about time to read this one.
Kate Shackleton is a widow of the first World War, although with her husband lost in battle, she lives in hope of his return. She is beginning a career as a private detective and has already recruited a partner and solved a murder. She is also one of the most well-rounded leads that I’ve encountered . Compare her to the similarly set-up Daisy Dalrymple and it makes it clear how slight those books are.
What we have here is a multi-layered novel, with a number of plot strands that take their time to be established and dovetail nicely into a satisfying conclusion. Frances gives a fascinating insight into the main characters while keeping enough secrets to keep the murderer hidden. It’s an immensely satisfying read and I’m looking forward to reading more about Kate.
One thing for some of my readers – the mystery isn’t really clued, unless I missed something. It’s a story about Kate solving the various crimes and while the reader is perfectly free to guess the killer, I don’t think it’s really a classic-style whodunnit. And, I should add, it speaks volumes about this book that I didn’t really care. It’s Highly Recommended.