DYING IN THE WOOL (Kate Shackleton Mystery #1)
by Frances Brody
PUBLISHER: Piatkus Books
RELEASE DATE: Oct 2009
FORMAT: Paperback, 356 pages
Take one quiet Yorkshire village: Bridgestead is a peaceful spot: a babbling brook, rolling hills and a working mill at its heart. Pretty and remote, nothing exceptional happens… Add a measure of mystery: Until the day that Master of the Mill, Joshua Brathwaite goes missing in dramatic circumstances, never to be heard of again. A sprinkling of scandal: Now Joshua’s daughter is getting married and wants one last attempt at finding her father. Has he run off with his mistress, or was he murdered for his mounting coffers? And Kate Shackleton – amateur sleuth extraordinaire!: Kate Shackleton has always loved solving puzzles. So who better to get to the bottom of Joshua’s mysterious disappearance? But as Kate taps into the lives of the Bridgestead dwellers, she opens cracks that some would kill to keep closed…
DYING IN THE WOOL is a delightful book. It’s everything I hoped it would be for a cosy mystery. I really enjoyed the authors writing style, it’s beautiful and very English. The time is set in the 1920′s and the descriptive detail of the countryside and small village of Bridgestead is so vivid I could literally have been there.
Kate Shackleton is a wonderful character and I connected with her immediately. She’s a very determined soul in a time when women were still treated as second class citizens. A widow pursuing a great love of photography and solving mysteries.
Kate is sweet and yet assertive, and although trembles internally at conflict, outwardly glows confidence and assurance. Her insecurities warmed me to her and yet I loved the fact she was also strong when she needed to be.
She has also had heart ache in her past, losing her husband to the war, but because his body was never found, cannot truly let herself believe he is dead. I really enjoyed this underlying story. It gives Kate more depth as a character and makes me want to read future books and discover whether her fears or hopes are realised.
However, DYING IN THE WOOL has it’s very own mystery to solve with the disappearance of Joshua Braithwaite, and Kate takes on her first professional job when she’s hired to find him by her friend, and Braithwaite’s daughter, Tabitha.
I found Kate’s sleuthing very entertaining, and although at times the story dragged a little, it soon picked up again with a dead body or two! Kate is extremely capable as a private investigator and totally holds her own in such a male dominated society.
The other characters present were all very well rounded and they all had a definite part to play in the unravelling mystery of Joshua Braithwaite. I liked Kate’s friend Tabitha and I felt her anguish with regards to her father’s disappearance, until that is the last couple of chapters when she turned on Kate quite unexpectedly. Even with Kate nearly being killed herself, Tabitha revoked Kate’s invitation to her wedding because she didn’t like the outcome. This does not a friend make!
DYING IN THE WOOL is, for the majority, from Kate’s first person point of view, but there are a few chapters scattered throughout which are from the third person perspective of other characters, which gives us details of their lives surrounding the time Joshua Braithwaite went missing. I didn’t understand why this was done as once the mystery came to it’s satisfying conclusion, I didn’t see the need for these additional chapters and if they were not included wouldn’t have detracted anything from the story.
Also, because Kate was not present, I felt I was given information that even my narrator didn’t know about and this didn’t seem right for a mystery. If these chapters were not included it would also have made the story a tad shorter, which in my opinion, would have been a welcome edit.
DYING IN THE WOOL is a very gentle book, but with a lot of substance. I loved the 1920s setting, which is described incredibly well. I am very much looking forward to reading the next mystery featuring Kate Shackleton, A Medal for Murder.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Dying in the Wool
- Medal for Murder
- Murder in the Afternoon
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