Very good third installment of the Kate Shackleton series and it keeps up the improved standard set in the previous novel, Medal for Murder. The plot is tight, the characters nicely drawn and the story draws you in. I was a bit perplexed about her sister's reticence to disclose anything to Kate, but I did like the children's characters very much. Finding out more about Kate's past was a good focus of the story and although I thought the ending a bit convoluted, overall the novel is very entertaining and a good read.
Kate Shackleton is woken early one morning by a young woman who claims to be her sister. Mary Jane Armstrong's husband, Ethan has disappeared and the police are not taking the matter seriously as they believe he has left her. Kate is dubious about Mary Jane but when she goes to her home and meets her young daughter, Harriet, who is the spitting image of Kate at that age she is convinced.
Curiosity soon drags Kate into the case and she is convinced that Harriet saw her father dead when she went to take him some food while he was working near a local quarry. When Harriet gets help the body is nowhere to be seen.
This is an intriguing story which shows Kate battling against the culture of the time to carve out a place for herself as a private detective. Her assistant, Jim Sykes, plays a large part in this story and it was interesting to see him battling with the disadvantages of no longer being a policeman. The story is narrated by Kate herself with some chapters showing in the third person what other people in the story are doing.
I loved the ending especially the way the personal advertisement in the newspapers is dealt with. The tension is built up gradually during the book and I just wanted to keep reading to find out how it was all going to fit together. I read all of it in one day and stayed up late to finish it because I had to know how it ended.
I like the series characters - Kate herself, her housekeeper and her parents as well as her lover - Marcus Charles. The series started with Dying In The Wool but the books can be read in any order. If you like Daisy Dalrymple, Phryne Fisher or Maise Dobbs then give Kate Shackleton a try.
Like the first two books in the series this is an engaging story, set primarily in Yorkshire, in the immediate aftermath of the Great War. It is well plotted and the characters come alive. The victim who was 'murdered in the afternoon' was Ethan, a quarry worker in a rural village, a radical socialist campaigner for workers' rights. Kate is brought in to investigate by the man's wife who wakens Kate in the early morning banging on her door. It turns out that this labouring man's wife is Kate's sister. Ethan did not return from work in the quarry on Saturday evening but his wife thinks of him as missing, not dead, there is no body. Just as Kate still thinks of her husband who did not return from the war.
During the course of the week as Kate investigates we are introduced to a large group of new characters, the local gentry in the big house, the village vicar and his sister, and the neighbouring farmer and his wife. Kate also meets her own blood relatives for the first time, not least Ethan's children, Harriet and Austin who play a major part in this story. Kate's assistant Jim Sykes is called in to help investigate and gets some pleasure from his undercover role.
Ethan's body is found. It is a murder, not the first nor the last. The murderer is unmasked in the end and we are left feeling satisfied but saddened by the destruction of lives brought about by the killer. There are lots of interesting twists, turns and subplots but they add to the story and are not there just as red herrings. This is a very good, atmospheric read. A cut above the average.
Kate Shackleton is called to help locate a missing stone mason. His wife Mary Jane Armstrong is adamant that Kate can help her, and in the face of such belief Kate agrees to accompany the woman back to her home in Great Applewick.
The story Kate pieces together is, that Mary Jane's children Harriet and Austin had gone to the quarry where their father worked to bring him lunch, and that the daughter Harriet had found him dead. Walking to the next farm for help, when she returned with the farmer, there was no one to be found, neither her father, nor a body.
As Kate investigates she encounters hostility from the quarry foreman, and discovers that Ethan Armstrong had active strong political views. The more she investigates the more it becomes apparent that there could be more than one reason for the absence of Ethan Armstrong, or his body.
But for Kate this is more than the mystery of a missing man, for she becomes embroiled in a family situation - her family, or rather the family that she was unaware existed, but nevertheless her family, raises for her many questions.
A good mystery that had me perplexed, but also a moving episode in the life of Kate Shackleton who still believes that even though the war has been over a couple of years that she may still find her husband, missing presumed dead, but maybe just with a missing memory - it happens why not to Kate. Highly recommended.
I did not realise that this book is the third in a series – but that did not spoil my enjoyment of it. It is a light entertaining book set in 1930s. Kate Shackleton is the daughter of a police officer and works as a private investigator. It is not made very clear how she survives financially but she is an independent woman who drives her own car, seems very much in control of her own life and seems to have a rather racy private life.
A stonemason is missing and his wife reports this to Kate. The daughter Harriet had gone to the quarry with food and says she saw her father lying dead and went for help. But when she returned the body has gone and she was accused of telling lies.
Other mysterious deaths occur as Kate finds herself more and more embroiled in the mystery. Things are not made any easier by the fact that she has family links with some of the characters. Aside from the murders the plot has class politics, family ties, greed and revenge.
It is all great fun. The atmosphere of the time is evoked well and there are some interesting and well-drawn characters.
This is a series that gets better with each and every book, probably because the characters are warm and developing. Another wonderful gritty story set on the edge of the dales. This is an author you cant take for granted, her books twist and turn and expect the unexpected. I will very soon be reading the fourth in this series.
I have just discovered this series and being a big fan of 1920's and 30's based detective books tied the first book in the series, really enjoyed this book feels it has settled into its stride with them improving. I find Kate bike able and liked the family angle introduced in this book