A Death in the Dales: A Kate Shackleton Mystery

Written by Frances Brody
Review by Judith Starkston

This, the seventh in Brody’s Kate Shackleton series, offers classic, English-countryside, cozy-mystery enjoyment. Kate, WWI widow and enquiry agent, aims for a holiday with her niece in a Yorkshire village in 1926. A kind doctor, Lucian Simonson, courts Kate. He offers the house he’s inherited from his Aunt Freda. But Freda has left Kate a request: clear the name of a man hanged for murder ten years before. Lucian opposes Kate’s involvement—intimation that all may not be right between them—but Kate is driven to uncover the truth.

Plot layers intriguingly pile up when a young man disappears, a local man dies mysteriously, an illicit love affair threatens a powerful family, and a good supply of suspicious characters reveal themselves to Kate. Brody puts us in the landscape and the language of this place. For example, a young woman knows her landlady’s sad history, “having earwigged when her elders did their whispering.” Brody vividly portrays village life, with its narrow-mindedness and willingness to hide unpleasant truths, and ties up the many strands in a surprising, satisfying way.