Death At The Seaside by Frances Brody

Everyone needs a summer holiday and war-widow-come-private-detective Kate Shackleton is no different. So as August is always a slow month, Kate heads for Whitby to see an old school friend, Alma. And they have a lovely time and nothing much happens… Just kidding.

Before even meeting Alma, Kate stumbles across a dead body in a jewellery shop – she thinks she can stay out of the investigation until it becomes clear that the victim was Alma’s paramour. Adding to the fact that Alma’s daughter – Kate’s god-daughter – has disappeared, Kate necessarily finds herself hunting for the missing girl, and, naturally, keeping an eye out for a murderer. But will the appearance of an old acquaintance be a help or a hindrance?

As I mentioned last time, things are all over the place at the moment chez Puzzle Doctor, and this was exactly the sort of book that I needed. Primarily because it’s a very straightforward tale.

To clarify, I don’t mean that this isn’t an involving, well-constructed crime novel – it is. What I mean is that the characters are clearly defined and distinctive and the motivations for their actions are sensible and realistic. You don’t need a notebook to work out who is doing what to who. At the moment, my attention span is somewhat limited and this is a book that I could have dipped in and out of while still not missing a trick. Having said that, it is also a very involving book and I sat and read in it longer chunks than I’ve been able to recently – in fact, I read the entire second half in one sitting this morning. So thanks to Frances for that – it’s exactly what I needed.

To be fair, the whodunit aspect of the tale is probably the weakest element on display here, as the identity of the murderer seems to become less and less important, with the effects of the crime and the disappearance of the girl on the characters taking the fore. So while I would be slightly hesitant to recommend this to someone looking for an out-and-out classic whodunit (I found the murderer pretty guessable), as a character-driven mystery set in the period between the wars, this is Highly Recommended.

Many thanks to Frances and Little Brown for the review copy.

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