Contact me at lucyvictoriabrown@gmail.com because I'm always up for a natter about anything. Well, mostly.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Book Review: Murder in the Afternoon by Frances Brody

Murder in the Afternoon is the third book in the Kate Shackleton series of mysteries that I've become rather addicted to (see reviews of Dying in the Wool, A Medal for Murder and A Woman Unknown). Set in Yorkshire in the 1920s, this novel blends the personal with the professional for amateur detective Kate. In the middle of the night she is visited by Mary Jane Armstrong who asserts that her two children found the body of their father at the quarry where he works. However, the body has since disappeared and the police aren't taking the matter seriously. Kate's discovery that Mary Jane is her sister leads not only to her taking the case but also visiting the mother who gave her up for adoption as a baby. Once again, Kate is determined to solve the mystery but this time there's more at stake.

Something I've enjoyed in previous books - the intimate descriptions of the Yorkshire locality - jumped to the fore in Murder in the Afternoon. A large proportion of it is set in and around Wakefield and I was thoroughly delighted to be following Kate through areas I know so well, allowing me to catalogue the differences a century can make. There's something about finding a book with locations you recognise that makes you feel closer to the text and it's definitely contributed to my overall love of the series.

As for the mystery itself, the familial tinge makes this novel different to the others. Kate's interactions with her hitherto unknown niece and nephew are particularly interesting, as is the contrast between the life she's had and the one she could've led. To offset this biological family there are more appearances than usual by Kate's adoptive parents in some amusing scenes involving their house being used as bait in a matrimonial trap. All this gives Murder in the Afternoon a distinctive flavour, while there's still a mystery at the heart of it.

Did I guess the killer this time? I suspected, but only because Brody wanted me to I think. I was nowhere near the 'why' and the unravelling at the end of the book was enjoyable in that respect. However, what I ultimate took from this book was a greater sense of Kate Shackleton the character - along with some brilliant depictions of 1920s Wakefield.

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