Murder in the Afternoon by Frances Brody is the third in the series about Kate Shackleton, a woman whose husband went missing—presumed dead—in WWI, and who will investigate one of the local quarry's stone masons whose dead body has disappeared (available February 11, 2014).
Kate Shackleton is a keeper. It took me about two chapters to know that she was someone I wanted to spend time with.
This is the third book in the series, which is set in the British countryside after the Great War. The story evoked a lost time and place and introduced me to a large, but well-drawn, cast of characters, none more interesting than Kate, an understated and wholly involving detective.
Kate is a war widow, though she’s not quite ready to accept that fate since her husband’s body was never identified. The daughter of a police inspector, Kate earns her living as an investigator, usually in insurance matters. But the case that arrives at her doorstep early one morning in the form of a strange woman becomes something far more. The woman, who claims a hidden family connection to Kate, demands help in finding her missing and possibly murdered husband.
This begins a story that’s as personal journey for as an investigation. Clearly, I’ve missed some character development by being unfamiliar with the earlier novels in Frances Brody's series but I never felt lost, even with the abundant cast, who were a fascinating mix, from Kate’s able assistant, former policeman Jim Sykes, to her client’s family, and the residents of the village where the missing man lived. I particularly loved the insights into how their lives were changing with the times, especially among the workers at the stone quarry.
Even though this eventually becomes a murder mystery and a search for clues to the victims’ demise, the story is really driven by the undercurrents among the village residents and the murdered man, and between Kate and her various family members.
[Secrets are also mined at this quarry...]