Harriet and Austin Armstrong are heading to the dreaded quarry to find their father – a stone mason. But when they get there, Harriet discovers a body instead. Their father has been apparently murdered, smashed over the head. They run for help but when they return… yep, the body’s gone. All that remains is the sundial that Ethan Armstrong was working on, smashed to pieces.
Mary Jane Armstrong, Ethan’s wife/widow, arrives at Kate Shackleton’s door asking for assistance in finding her husband, dead or alive. As Kate looks into the mystery, she finds a number of people who might have wanted Ethan dead, but with no body, is there any crime to investigate? But this is personal for Kate – she was adopted as a baby and Mary Jane is her real sister. But is she also a murderer? A lot of people seem to think so…
An apology – been a while since I’ve posted – a busy period at work, and another book being read but the review for that one’s coming next week. Also, the author sent me this book a while ago and I really should have read it quicker than this. For two reasons – first, basic good manners and second, it’s another strong entry in this series.
The first two books – Dying In The Wool and A Medal For Murder – were both very strong entries in the 20th Century historical mystery genre. Set between the wars, Kate is a war widow who cannot let go of her belief that her husband may not have died on the battlefields of the Great War. In the meantime, she has set herself up as a detective, gained an assistant and a sort-of romantic interest in a Scotland Yard detective who always seems to get assigned to jobs that she’s already investigating.
One of the impressive things about this series is the use of the historical setting. The setting comes out in the writing clearly without hammering home any specific events or items. The characters are clearly defined – although Kate being adopted seems to spring out of nowhere (although I could have missed something – it happens).
The mystery is well constructed. There are a number of strands going through things, with several potential motives for murder being dangled in front of us. The choice of murderer is a good one, especially given the relatively small cast of suspects. The reasons behind the crime seem a little extreme but I’m sure that such tales have been documented from the time. Frances does research her books properly and this will be no exception.
There are a few “between-the-wars-female-sleuth” series knocking around at the moment – if you’re a fan of the genre, then I recommend this series in particular. And if you’re not a fan of the series – I Highly Recommend it anyway!