A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody

a-woman-unknownKate Shackleton is approached by Cyril Fitzpatrick, a man suspicious of his wife Deirdre’s activities. He wants to know where she is going when she is supposedly visiting her sick mother. She seems to be making money from somewhere and he is desperate to know the truth.

Meanwhile, Everett Runcie, a banker, is facing ruin. His only recourse is to divorce his wife, but before he can arrange that, he is found by in his bed in the Hotel Metropole by a chambermaid, who was expecting to discover something else entirely.

As Kate investigates the murder, she finds Deirdre’s name coming up again and again in the investigation. But can she find the truth before the killer strikes again?

The fourth in the Kate Shackleton series by Frances Brody – the first three are Dying In The Wool, A Medal For Murder and Murder In The Afternoon. Kate is a widow from the Great War, still searching in vain for her missing-presumed-dead husband, who has taken up detective work due to her success in locating other missing soldiers. The first three books were great reads, evoking the period effectively with a strong lead character and an engrossing mystery. So how’s book four?

More of the same, of course. It doesn’t have the development for Kate of the previous book – the discovery of her true family is kind of hard to match – but there is at least one important event for Kate towards the end of the book and Frances Brody is to be applauded for taking (at least for now) a different direction than might be expected for one aspect of Kate’s life.

In terms of the mystery, I missed the killer despite missing a whopping clue that Frances dangles under the reader’s nose and still manages to distract this reader.

What is slightly odd is despite a seemingly ruthless killer being on the loose, no seems particularly concerned about it. Of course it’s being investigated but Kate proceeds as she’s never in any danger, as if there’s never any real threat. That’s hardly unique in classic crime fiction, but here, with three-dimensional characters and such a well-developed story, it seemed a little out of place.

But despite that, it’s still a quality read – maybe not quite as strong as Murder In The Afternoon, but well worth your time. It’s a great series and this is another strong entry. Recommended.

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