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A man is found dead in the Metropole hotel in Leeds and Kate Shackleton's friend and erstwhile lover, Marcus Charles is sent from Scotland Yard to investigate. The dead man is someone with whom Kate is acquainted and his widow asks her to investigate his death for her.

Marcus does not seem keen to have Kate involved in the investigation even though she can ask questions and get answers where he might not be able to. Kate also has a case of her own to investigate - Deirdre Fitzpatrick - a young married woman who is causing her husband concern by disappearing for days at a time.

This is the fourth book in this intriguing mystery series set in nineteen twenties West Yorkshire. It is well written with an interesting heroine and the era is brought vividly to life. I like Kate's employee, Sykes the ex-policeman and he plays quite a big part in this episode.

The period details are well done and I enjoy the background because I used to live in the area myself and have stayed more recently in the Metropole. I like the way the author demonstrates the problems Kate faces as a single woman though her status as a widow gives her more options than she would have as a spinster. If you want a mystery series which is not set in London or the Home Counties then try this one - it is something a bit different.
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on 3 November 2012
Superb fourth outing for Ms Brody's excellent Kate Shackleton. This series just gets better and better.
As beautifully and cleverly plotted as ever with intriguing, interesting and well-drawn characters (as ever!). There is a big clue to the murderer about two thirds of the way through the story but then there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing right through to the end. I'm not going to say whether that big clue is a red herring or not!
Any fan of detective fiction will enjoy Frances Brody's books. They chime with the 'golden age' of Christie and Sayers - they are set in the 1920's - but have a slightly harder edge. Ms Brody is not afraid to explore the seamier aspects of human motivation.
Mrs Shackleton is a feisty, resourceful, determined and perceptive private investigator. Like all great fictional detectives she has her 'entourage' of assistants - her 'bagman' former Constable Sykes; her redoubtable housekeeper Mrs Sugden; her senior policeman father; her aristocratic mother (and socialite aunts); and prim Mr Duffield the archivist of the local newspaper. 'A Woman Unknown' introduces a couple of new characters who I feel sure we will be seeing again helping Kate in future cases.
This book can be read without any prior knowledge of the preceeding books in the series. However, if you are new to Mrs Shackleton I would suggest that you begin with 'Dying in the Wool' and proceed through 'A Medal for Murder' and 'Death in the Afternoon' before taking this on - it will increase your enjoyment.
In summary, Ms Brody's Kate Shackleton novels are charming, gripping and utterly satisfying. I eagerly anticipate the next instalment.
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on 5 May 2013
Frances Brody produces a Crime novel in the style classic to her chosen setting and, with Kate Shackleton's love of her old Jowett motor, readers cannot help loving her.

Kate's strata of society, just before the financial crash, means that she can slip quietly between the male world of the Police, the seedier world of the poor, and the hypocritical world of those purporting to be their betters - without seeming to be a threat to any of them. Along the way readers learn a lot about the mores of the period.

If you like your murders non-too-violent this is a book for you.
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on 1 January 2014
I have read the other books in this series and thoroughly enjoyed them. This one is just as good as them. A really good plot with many turns good believable characters, I did not guess the outcome and it came as a surprise. I highly recommend this book and this author.
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on 3 March 2013
The latest Kate Shackleton book is another page-turner. The 1920s setting gives an extra "edge" to the writing especially as the author introduces the shocked and disapproving attitudes of a more formal era which can appear strange in the 2010s. I loved this book - an intriguing plot,interesting characters and well-crafted twists and turns. I hope this series will continue for a long time.
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on 29 March 2013
I bought this because the cover was so inviting and the concept of "a woman unknown" had possibilities for an intriguing read. And, yes, it was an intriguing read. The author manages to make Kate Shackleton human without being arch - are you listening Daisy Dalrymple? The pace was measured until halfway through when it really began to canter, just like a reader wants it to. By then you know the characters and need to know where they are going. The threads of the plot were interwoven with skill and the whole thing was that wonderful word - readable. I also loved the way the author did not show off her research but slipped in snippets of information that wove seamlessly into the narrative. For instance I had no idea Catholics were called 'left-footers'. The descriptions of Leeds in the early 1920s made an excellent backdrop for the characters and Frances Brody used it to good effect.

What was a real "speed-bump" for me, was the change from first person to third person point of view, which made me wonder if that was the only way the author could communicate the next bit of the plot. I can cope with third person points of view from different persons, but if a book starts in the first person, for this reader, it should stay there. The other thing I found a little unbelievable was the way every last end was tied neatly. However, that said, Frances Brody writes cozies and such things are the nature of the cozy crime genre, so perhaps I am being unfair here. What I will say - loudly - is that the Kate Shackleton stories deserve to be right up there with the likes of Ann Granger et al and I can also see that Kate would make an excellent series detective for the television a la Hetty Wainthrop or Rosemary and Thyme.
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on 22 September 2012
Kate Shackleton has accidentally become a private investigator. Receiving a telegram at the end of the Great War, informing her that her husband Gerald was `missing presumed dead', Kate decided to try and discover exactly what happened to Gerald. In the course of her investigations she helped others by locating missing loved ones, and so has by reputation, become a private investigator.

Approached by Mr Cyril Fitzpatrick who is concerned about his wife Deirdre, and wants to know just where his wife goes when she is supposedly caring for her sick mother, Kate is wary of the job. She has come across Deirdre Fitzpatrick before.

Chief Inspector Marcus Charles of Scotland Yard asks Kate to meet him at the Hotel Metropole where a man known to Kate has been found by a chambermaid, dead in bed and not from natural causes. The man Everett Runcie is a banker facing ruin and disgrace by some devious dealing. His American heiress wife tired of his infidelities is now seeking a divorce. But Everett Runcie had not been alone when he checked into the hotel, so where, and who, was his companion?

Cleverly plotted, could seemingly unrelated events be connected? As Kate investigates she recalls what was put down to an accidental shooting at the start of the grouse season a few weeks back, and begins to wonder if there could be a tie up. The more she delves, the more convoluted and sinister do matters appear. Can Kate untangle the complex threads and get to the truth?

The story is told by Kate in the first person, and by third person narratives from Kate's assistant Sykes and Deirdre Fitzpatrick. Whilst Frances Brody has weaved an intriguing set of events for the reader to unravel, much of the pleasure in the book is in the period in which it is set, and which the author portrays brilliantly. The story also highlights the difficulty of the divorce laws of the time.

A marvellous instalment, in this excellent series, this book is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
Earlier books in the series are, Dying in the Wool, A Medal for Murder and Murder in the afternoon.
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on 13 January 2017
I am rapidly becoming a fan of the author. This outing is set mainly in 1920,s Leeds, all the descriptions are very accurate. Kate Shackleton PI is is investigating a murder at the Hotel Metropole and a disappearing women, plenty of twists and the culprit is not known until the last chapters. Her sidekick Sykes is playing his part in full. Plenty of historical detail, the Jowett motor car manufactured in Bradford and others facts that are correct. I look forward to her next book.
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on 17 November 2015
This is the fourth Kate Shackleton book, but the first I’ve read. I liked Kate Shackleton, her sharp mind, sense of humour, and common-sense approach to the mystery of two deaths – and the identity of the ‘unknown woman’ who seems to link both.
The subsidiary characters were well-drawn, believable human beings, and of particular interest to me was the period setting of 1920s Leeds. The contrasts between the haves and have-nots – and Kate’s journeys between the two by Jowett motor car – were well illustrated but never intrusive. Through her characters, author Frances Brody shows that for the landed gentry all was not well at that time, while on the other hand, poverty-stricken though they were, the back streets of Leeds did at least have a sense of community and caring.
After several twists and turns, the solution to the mystery was a surprise (but entirely logical in retrospect) and Kate’s interaction with her former beau, a senior policeman, contrasted nicely with her retired-policeman sidekick, Sykes. The ending of the novel seemed a little drawn out, but I might not have found it so had I read the previous books in the series. Drawn-out or not, the ending was satisfying on many levels, and I shall certainly be reading more of Frances Brody’s gentle, intriguing murder-mysteries.
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on 17 April 2015
Fabulous read. Frances Brody's style of writing is amazing. You are gripped from the first page of each book. It's like you are reading photographs as the creativity and attention to detail just makes you feel like you can see everything.
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