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Dying In The Wool: Number 1 in series (Kate Shackleton Mysteries)
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Kate Shackleton - widowed during World War I - has made a reputation for herself finding missing people. Her friend Tabitha asks her if she will try and find her missing father before her own wedding. Kate at first is reluctant to do so as she feels it is impossible after nearly 7 years to find Joshua Braithwaite - alive or dead, and she's not comfortable being paid for something she's always done free. She decided to try because there seemed to be a lot about Joshua's disappearance which hadn't been explained. The more information Kate uncovers the more uneasy she becomes. Ably assisted by Jim Sykes - a former policeman - Kate uncovers a tangled web of relationships and secrets.

Interspersed with a few of flashbacks to 1916 when Joshua went missing, the story is narrated by Kate. The style is down to earth and easy to read with flashes of humour. I liked both Jim and Kate and I thought all the characters were realistic and true to their time. I enjoyed the story which had the right degree of complexity and enough clues to lead the reader to the right conclusion though there were plenty of red herrings.

If you enjoy crime stories which are a bit different, with not too much violence, you will enjoy this one. This is an excellent start to the series and I've just (2014) read the book for the second time and enjoyed it even more.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2012
Set in the 1920's in and around the towns, mills and picturesque villages and beautiful surrounding countryside of her home county Yorkshire, Kate Shackleton is already bucking the trend. Furiously independent, she drives her own car and is a keen amateur photographer. However, beneath the bravado she is unable to mourn her husband Gerald who is still declared missing. It has been over four years since the war was over and she is finding it hard to adjust to a life without him.

Kate's life is about to change dramatically when she receives a letter. It is a cry for help from a friend to find a missing person. Driven by her own personal reasons and curiosity she agrees to help. Kate is employed to find Joshua Braithwaite, a mill owner. Kate's photographic skills now take on a new meaning. Her search leads her to unveil the dark secrets of Bridgestead Mill. She begins to trace the threads in search of the truth. What led to the explosion at the mill? The stains of guilt and secrets held by some of the village dwellers begin to unravel stitch by stitch. No amount of bleach can remove the darkest of black dye from the soul. The picture Kate Shackleton is piecing together is not a pretty one but now as she zooms in on the final piece of the mystery her life is in real danger.

This is where Frances Brody and her heroine Kate Shackleton triumph. The 1920's is much unrepresented in crime fiction and yet she has captured the ambiance of this period vividly and both historically and culturally in every detail. You can smell and taste the working mills, as she describes the violent assault on the ears, so true to the working conditions at that time. One is taken on a journey just like a thread of wool she twists and weaves you through the colourful and rich fabric of the story from page to page keeping you in suspense while her subtle humour educates and informs you along the way.

Dying in the Wool is a pleasant assault on the senses and leaves you wanting more. It warrants being adapted for a drama series on television and given there are two more books in the series, there is no casting off here.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2013
Entertaining, no bad language. These stories modernise the idiom but to me are more like the books of Dorothy Sayers, Marjorie Allingham, Ngaio Marsh and others. As a reader of history I think Frances Brody has done her research and gives a good picture of the period between the wars. I am going to read the others in time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2012
Another author I found by accident and thoroughlly enjoyed. Read Dying in the Wool in record time for me. To start off with I did wonder where this book was going. After about 50 pages or so I felt that I'd got into the story and found it very interesting and held my attention.

I liked the flashback chapters as they were a good insight into the time the disappearance happened. The ultimate conclusion to this book was very good as it kept you guessing right up until the last couple of pages.

I would like to see the character of Kate Shackleton developed more in the next book, which I am looking forward to reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2014
This is the first book in the Kate Shackleton series. Set in Yorkshire in the aftermath of WW1, Kate is 30-ish war-widow of a medical husband, missing in action. Based in Leeds, she takes up detective work on a gentile amateur basis. This story relates her transition from amateur to professional detective when she is engaged by a friend to find a missing father. Mr Braithwaite, the owner and boss of a mill goes missing from a hospital on the eve of Mr Braithwaite being charged with the criminal offence of attempted suicide. I am glad I read this book after I read 'A Medal for Murder' number 2 in the series. It is a much less easy read than book 2. I found the story-telling somewhat ponderous and drawn out, stretching the tale well beyond its natural life. There are a couple of murders and plenty of disfunctional family stories but not enough to keep up the necessary pace required of a whodunnit.

The period in which this story is set is an interesting one. Kate is the child of privilege in an era when the old paternalistic society was on its last legs. Kate feels the need to earn her living and thus the amateur investigator becomes a professional and takes on an employee. Its a pity that this first venture as a professional private detective did not have a bit more umph!

Things improve in Book 2 'A Medal for Murder'A Medal For Murder: Number 2 in series (Kate Shackleton Mysteries)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 30 July 2010
This novel is rooted in a Yorkshire mill village in Airedale, where bosses and workers live cheek by jowl. Set in the period following the first world war, time, place and the rhythms of local speech are vividly created. In the course of Kate's investigations we are taken into the underworld of war profiteers and get glimpses of London high society.

The mysteries of woollen manufacturing processes and their quaint names are interwoven with the lives - and deaths - of a rich variety of characters. The toffs in the big houses are no better than they ought to be and there is more to the mill hands than meets the eye. Everyone has secrets.

Kate is well-named. She is the catalyst who stirs up the hidden past with gentle probes. There are enough clues to keep us guessing and from time to time we are given evidence which Kate has yet to discover. By the end of the novel everyone's life has changed and Kate is transformed from an amateur sleuth into a private detective.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2013
This first in the series was so good that I immediately went on the read the next three! Good plot and well scripted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In 1922 Kate, a young widow is asked by a colleague to find her father, who went missing from civilian life some six years earlier. Kate's own husband disappeared in France in 1918, and she has spent time helping other women find lost loved ones. But this is different; this man disappeared from civilian life, and was a mill owner. But Kate would rather do that than go clothes shopping with her mother, and besides, she can never resist a challenge.

The world of post-War England is evocatively brought to life in this light mystery novel. The author has a rather abrupt style of writing, with short staccato sentences which takes a bit of getting used to. But it's largely written in the manner of Kate thinking `out loud' as it were to the reader, so makes sense from that perspective. This is an undemanding read, enjoyable and entertaining. I did think it could have done with a thorough editing to remove some parts that really seemed to wander from the narrative to no point, but apart from that I enjoyed the read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2009
'Crime' isn't usually my shelf of choice in the bookshop but I am glad I made an exception for this book. Having read the author's previous novel 'Somewhere behind the morning' (published under the name Frances McNeil) and enjoyed it very much I was curious to find out how her foray into the world of the detective novel had turned out. I was not disappointed. The story of how Kate Shackleton, a independent young woman from Leeds comes to investigate the disappearance of Yorkshire mill owner Joshua Braithwaite in the First World War captured my imagination right from the start, and not just because I happen to live among drystone walls and mills (now either demolished or converted into posh flats) but also because I felt I had learned something about the lives and times of people in those days and about the wool industry. Kate Shackleton is a delightful heroine: sharp enough not to let anyone pull the wool over her eyes yet wonderfully human in her reaction to certain suspects. The novel is well-plotted, atmospheric and witty: look out for one of crime fiction's greats making a surprising guest appearance. I daresay Mrs Shackleton will have many more opportunities for sleuthing and I look forward to be entertained again like I was by 'Dying in the Wool' - in an intelligent and riveting way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Kate Shackleton has gained a reputation for solving mysteries and finding people, in the past she has mainly done it for friends and family. But now an acquaintance come friend from her days as a VAD during the First World War wants to actually pay her for her services.

Trouble is Kate is a widow, it may well be the 1920s and times are changing for women, but really Kate should not be embarking on such adventures. Kate is strong willed and rather determined and I liked her from the start of the novel "hanging onto freedom by the skin of my teeth".

In a world where it was still rather odd to see women working in male roles, Kate's father, who in fact is a superintendent steps in to help. He makes sure she has some professional experience on her side in the introduction of the character Jim Sykes a former policeman who Kate reluctantly lets help to appease her father. They make a rather quirky and humorous pairing from the moment they meet.

So Kate's first professional case; is the disappearance of Joshua Braithwaite, father of Kate's acquaintance and friend Tabitha. She wants to know where her father is before she gets married. It is this missing piece of the jigsaw which is stopping Tabitha from moving forward with her life. The trouble Kate is finding is that Joshua's disappearance does not seem to be that straightforward and as she discovers one part of the story, she starts to uncover information which Tabitha may not like.
Set in a Yorkshire village where the mill is the heart and soul of the community, providing housing and work over many locals heads, it seems that there are some who know more than they care to admit and maybe they hold the key to where Joshua is. The author takes us very much into the heart of the village and the mill, and you can almost hear the deafening noise of the workers as the material is created. In fact the definitions for some of the terminology used subtitles some of the chapters. You will have a greater understanding of how the wool industry in the 1920s works and how the cloth is created by the end of the novel.

Scattered throughout the book, the voice of the story changes from Kate, the main narrator to varying different characters as they tell their sides of the story from when Joshua disappeared, it is not quite in the dual narrative that some books use frequently. Merely flashbacks into a past of no more than 6 years or so to give the reader more background to see if they can solve the mystery before Kate. I was mystified up to the denouement when it all fell into place neatly like a perfectly dyed piece of cloth.
An ideal cosy crime mystery where it certainly harks back to a past age and does it with aplomb which sometimes historical mysteries can miss completely. I look forward to seeing what Kate may well investigate next.
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