Kate Shackleton has developed quite a reputation as a detective, with a particular skill at finding missing people. So when Lady Coulton needs someone found discretely – an illegitimate daughter – Kate is soon put to work. But as her investigation proceeds, she finds herself distracted by a murder in the Leeds library.
The police have a ready-made suspect – an apparent vagrant, found unconscious near the body with a bag of gold sovereigns, dying from pneumonia. The perfect suspect, only Kate has serious doubts about whether he would have had the strength to murder the victim – or do anything, really. But with the police convinced, it’s up to Kate to find the real killer. Is it possible that the missing girl is involved in the murder as well? And where did that monkey come from?
Thanks to Frances Brody for sending me a copy of this one – it’s the sixth book in the Kate Shackleton series (book seven is on the way, btw). I first came across the series when I met Frances at a book signing in Formby and I’ve been steadily catching up with the series ever since. For the uninitiated, Kate is a war widow (World War I), although initially at least, she has not given up hope of finding her husband, whose body was never found. But she has developed a good reputation as a detective now, having recruited a partner early on.
First off, I take absolutely no offence to the murder of a mathematician who like reading! A complete coincidence of course, but one can’t help taking these things personally 🙂 It’s a complex tale with many strands – unfortunately, as I was reading this in short bursts, I did have to keep reminding myself who was who, but I have been a little distracted of late. Exam result season is never the best time for a teacher/mystery reviewer…
But the quality of the writing shines through. Frances make full use of her local knowledge – the Leeds library in particular – the period detail is meticulous. Kate and her close circle are well-developed characters – her housekeeper gets a nice bit of development this time – and it’s a shame that a certain addition to the cast isn’t hanging around.
It’s interesting to see how the series has developed. Strands from the early books – Kate’s hope for her husband’s survival, her love interest – have been put to one side with her maturity as an investigator becoming more of a focus. There is a sense of desperation towards the end of this tale on Kate’s part as she knows who the killer is but is both unable to prove it or convince the police to help her prove it. And as the killer knows that she knows, there’s a level of menace to the proceedings as well.
So, a deep involving tale – as is the case with the other books in the series. Highly Recommended.
Other books in the series: