Death in the Stars

Written by Frances Brody
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

This ninth Kate Shackleton mystery is set in Leeds, England in 1927. Private investigator Kate is aided by her assistant, ex-policeman Jim Sykes, and by her housekeeper, Mrs. Sugden. Their enquiry agency is hired by famous singer Selina Fellini to arrange transportation to observe a total solar eclipse. Selina’s manager, Trotter Brockett, and a comedian friend, Billy Moffatt, accompany them. Billy dies, and Kate realizes he was murdered. There have been two other “accidental” deaths among Brockett’s performers, and this third death raises suspicions.

As Kate and her team investigate, readers are introduced to a large cast of music hall players. Selina’s enigmatic, volatile husband Jarrod is also in the mix. As Kate gets more involved with the show business world of variety theatre, readers will enjoy the journey through Leeds’s past. All three sleuths try to determine whether a ventriloquist and a dog trainer were murdered or died by mischance. A fourth near-victim is rescued at the eleventh hour. Winding along slowly at times, this is a complex, “cozy” mystery with twenty-one suspects. Kate’s fans and new readers will like this fun, intriguing, atmospheric puzzle.