Investigating up North ….

There are a number of people currently writing books about female detectives in the early twentieth century. I reviewed Laurie R King’s books about Mary Russell here and Carola Dunn’s books about Daisy Dalrymple here. Another author whose heroine is investigating in the same era is Frances Brody. Kate Shackleton lives in the North of England so these mysteries feature locations and themes from areas around Leeds and Bradford. I have recently read Death in the Stars which is set in the Yorkshire Dales and Dying in the Wool which is the first of the series and is set in a mill in West Yorkshire. I have read a couple of others in the series too which were set in Leeds and in a Yorkshire Brewery.

I particularly enjoyed Dying in the Wool because it is the first in the series. Kate becomes a detective almost by default after she is widowed in WW1 because her father is a senior police officer and she has solved some minor mysteries for friends. She becomes involved in the search for a missing mill owner having been asked to investigate by her friend who is about to be married. It turns out that no one really liked the missing man and lots of employees at the mill as well as family members had reasons to kill him.

In Death in the Stars the story is about the death of a music hall comedian who attends a party to celebrate an eclipse at a private school. His death appears to be part of a series involving other theatre stars and Kate has been engaged to prevent further deaths by a famous singer.

These are well written and constructed books with lots of suspects and where the miscreant is apprehended by the end of the novel which makes them satisfying to read. Kate is assisted by an ex-police officer and occasionally by her own housekeeper. Her passion is for photography which also features in a couple of the titles.

Although these books are entertaining enough I sometimes feel that they are lacking a little something, perhaps a lightness of touch ? Kate is very serious and there is little humour in the narrative. They are well done but not the best I have read of this type of story but please don’t let that put anyone off giving them a go – you may well feel differently.

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