Frances Brody

This is the fourth book in Frances Brody’s series about a female detective, but the first I’ve read. I liked the protagonist, 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.