Amateur detective Kate Shackleton has decided to take a break; nothing ever happens in August, so she heads to Whitby for a holiday, meeting up with her old school friend Alma whilst there. But mystery and crime tends to follow Kate around, and she finds herself caught up in the investigations into the murder of a jeweller in the town, who happens to be Alma’s current love interest, and who has also recently lent Alma’s daughter Felicity some money so she could run away with her beau to find her father.
This is the third year in a row that I have had the pleasure to review a Kate Shackleton mystery here on my blog. Affectionately referred to as ‘cosy crime’, they aren’t the sort of books that are going to present violently graphic murder scenes, or end in a thrilling chase to nail the killer. Things trot along at a pleasant pace, and much like an Agatha Christie novel, build to an exciting climax in which the perpetrator, along with his or her motive, is finally revealed.
Kate Shackleton is an interesting heroine; bound by the societal rules of the time (post World War I), but written as an independent and intelligent woman who can’t resist the lure of a mystery that has to be solved. Kate’s lovable sidekick, Sykes, is once again on hand to assist her, as is her housekeeper, Mrs Sugden.
When I read my first Kate Shackleton Mystery, I was worried that I might feel as though I had missed something; often when reading a series, you feel that you have to start at the beginning. While of course there would be some benefit to reading the series in order, these are self-contained cases, and it’s only the ephemera of Kate’s life that continues with any consistency. But Brody is able to build the backstory without including pages of exposition; it’s always introduced gently that Kate is a widower who lost her husband during the war, and everything else is mentioned only if necessary. It doesn’t necessarily matter that Kate solved the mystery of a murder in a library two books ago, but if something like this needs to be mentioned, it is done with a deft hand.
I can’t recommend this series of books enough to someone who enjoys this kind of cosy crime; it’s not unlike an episode of Midsomer Murders or Morse; just fantastical enough to be entertaining, but moving along at such a pace that you never feel as though you are being left behind.
Death at the Seaside
First published: 6th October 2016
Review copy provided by publisher