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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Book Review: A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody

This is another book I was drawn to because of the cover. I bought it not knowing it was the fourth in a series or that it was set in Yorkshire. I therefore got a very pleasant surprise when I opened the front cover. Finding good period mysteries set outside the capital is rather difficult but A Woman Unknown introduced me to a new series that specialises in it. I have to admit to getting very excited when the heroine hopped on a train to Wakefield Opera House and wandered a little around my home town in 1923.

So - the story! Kate Shackleton is a private investigator who is approached by Cyril Fitzpatrick because his wife, Deirdre, is acting strangely. He's chosen Kate because her partner, Sykes, caught Deirdre shoplifting previously and let her off. But Deirdre's 'secret' is that she is spending (non-sexual) nights in hotels with married men who are providing their wives with grounds for divorce. Unfortunately, on one occasion Deirdre wakes up next to a dead man and flees.

Everett Runcie isn't short of enemies. His wife, Philippa, is divorcing him and moving back to America; his long-term mistress, Caroline, may be put out when she doesn't feature in his plans and he's not proving the best asset to the family firm either. But who killed him? From investigating a person acting strangely, Kate suddenly finds herself searching for a missing woman while skirting around the edges of a murder investigation chaired by her ex-boyfriend.

With some mysteries I like to guess ahead but with this one I just allowed the tale to take me. The fluid, readable style of Brody made for an enjoyable ride. And I was relieved to discover that, although there are references to previous books, it's not necessary to have read them in order to understand and enjoy this one.  Of course, I did have a few criticisms, primarily that the narrator switches at different chapters with no discernible pattern. It can be a little disorientating at times but, really, that's a gripe. The book was very enjoyable and I will certainly be going back to learn about Kate Shackleton from the very beginning.

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