IT’S ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO COME ACROSS AN AUTHOR who we’ve never read before, for no other reason than life’s too short and there are too many good books out there waiting to be devoured. It’s particularly so, if that author fits into the mystery/crime genre, one of our not-at-all guilty and rather favourite pleasures. Frances Brody, who pens the deliciously moreish Kate Shackleton mysteries, set in post-World War I England, is a case in point.
Death at the Seaside, the eighth book in the series, finds the intrepid Mrs Shackleton, a 30-something lady, taking a well-needed holiday in Whitby, a historic and literary town in Yorkshire, the county where most of the series is, in fact, set. Whitby has particular resonance for Kate as it’s not only where her old and rather eccentric friend, Alma, lives with her daughter, Felicity, but it’s also here that Kate became engaged to her now MIA husband. And, when Kate visits the jewellery shop where he bought her engagement ring, she discovers a body and finds herself suddenly embroiled in murder and the search for Felicity, her missing goddaughter.
What makes this book so interesting is that apart from it being a rollicking good read, full of flavoursome characters who move seamlessly in and out of frame, the dialogue is tight and the humour dry. Brody’s attention to detail and to setting the scene brings Whitby – and, in fact, an England and a society still recovering from the reality of brutal war – to life. The evocation of time and place, detailed descriptions of buildings and landscape and a stream of finely drawn characters, who can’t be anything other than English, all serve to create a convincing hinterland against which the drama can be played out. In this, Brody brings to mind the great Queens of twentieth-century British Mystery – Agatha Christie, of course, but also Patricia Wentworth, Margery Allingham and Ngiao Marsh (albeit a New Zealander, technically).
Death at the Seaside is an absolute delight, a very ‘cosy read’ (particularly on a chilly autumnal night when one isn’t feeling well), and, as such, we very much look forward to catching up on the rest of the series and Kate Shackleton’s world.
And, if you haven’t indulged in Brody’s books already, well, all we can add is, you’re in for a truly great treat.
Many thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown, for including The Literary Shed in Death at the Seaside‘s Blog Tour. Please do read the other reviews on the tour.
See also: Frances Brody’s website
Also of interest: ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love); Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952) – E. McNight Kauffer (book covers we love); ‘An Alaskan Epic – Rosamund Lupton’s The Quality of Silence’; ‘The beauty of Sara Taylor’s The Shore, a breathtaking debut’
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