- Author: Frances Brody
- Series: Kate Shackleton Mysteries #11
- Genre: Murder Mystery/Historical Fiction
- No. of pages: 384
- Year published: 2019
- Dates read: 22.09.19 – 27.09.19
- Rating: 4 stars
“We need to know who he is, who killed him and why he was put on that train.”– Mrs Kate Shackleton
1929, London. In the darkness before dawn, a London railway porter discovers a man’s body as he unloads a special goods train from Yorkshire, all means of identification stripped away. Hitting a dead end, Scotland Yard call on indomitable sleuth Kate Shackleton, hoping her local Yorkshire knowledge and undoubted skills at winkling out information will produce the results they need. 1929, Yorkshire. Fears of unrest in the Yorkshire coalfields mean that Kate must conduct her investigation with the utmost secrecy. But when she discovers that another murder occurred around the same time as the mysterious body on the train, she is convinced there must be a connection. Using her sharp instincts and persuasive charm, she begins to uncover a web of intrigue that edges her closer to the truth. But with attempts being made on her life, Kate needs all the strength and resourcefulness she can muster, before she becomes the next victim . . .
First of all what I want to stress is I requested this book without initially realising that it was the ELEVENTH in the series. So when I finally realised that this was in fact not a debut novel but another instalment of a long lasting collection, I was worried. The thoughts that came into my head were, “Am I going to understand the characters?”, Am I going to understand the relationships between some of the characters? “Am I going to miss out on some important nods and mentions to previous books?” All these thoughts plagued my mind. What I found out was I did not need to read any other book in her eleven-book series to understand and engage whole-heartedly with this book. While I always feel it’s best to start from the beginning, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on things. Enough information was given about already established characters to give new readers an understanding into their background, morals and personality without bombarding them with stuff already mentioned in the previous books which would slight bore the loyal readers. I felt it was a perfect balance.
So… Mrs Kate Shackleton herself. I personally have an affinity for sassy women who bend the rules to suit them. I just get so much joy reading about them, I live vicariously through these characters. So, this book welcomed me to another character I knew very early on I was going to love. This woman is incredibly smart, compassionate and knows her self-worth. She is a female detective in 1929 and this comes with its own obstacles and barriers and as she says quite early on in the novel, “I would love to say that female detectives are so numerous we have formed a club, but that wouldn’t be true.” She works in a male dominated environment with people that don’t take her as serious. Obviously, we are eleven books in, and she has a reputation now, which Commander Woodhead backs up, “You have a reputation for winkling out information”. But still she is in a very male dominated field which leads to numerous struggles. I loved the way she would hold herself in these situations. Head held up high, no nonsense attitude. She is tough and she is too the point but then in further scenes with other more desperate/vulnerable characters you get to see her more kind-hearted nurturing side.
I felt so connected to her journey through this case that when I finished the book, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. As if I had been solving the case alongside her. I was just as invested in what happened as she was. The plot was incredibly engaging and while I wouldn’t say there were outrageous twists and turns, that made you start thinking off plot holes and actual logistics, I was just as sucked in and enthralled. I felt this came truly down to the atmosphere that Brody created. I always felt a sense of anxiety and worry. Mrs Shackleton is on this case undercover and no-one must know she is investigating and because of this Mrs Shackleton was always second-guessing people. Wondering if people knew what she was doing, wondering if they had known all a long why she had arrived. “I felt like a person playing with dice loaded in favour of the tables.” And this constant second guessing made me incredibly anxious. I was just waiting for her to be found out and for something bad to happen. I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through. You had these incredible moments of action. Car chases, moments of frightened panic! I felt a wave of emotions reading this book, hence the high investment in this novel.
Overall, I felt that this book was highly engaging, had a brilliant atmosphere and now I must go back and read all of her previous books.
We toasted to female detectives.– Mrs Kate Shackleton
The next book I hope to review is undetermined. I am currently reading the Eye of the World by Robert Jordan which I am loving but it’s a brick of a book and for the first time in a long time I am trying to not speed through the book. I am taking my time. So we shall see later what I review.