Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody - #review

Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there.

Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma's daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma's current gentleman friend.

Kate can't help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller's shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby's idyllic fa├žade, it's up to Kate - ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden - to discover the truth behind Felicity's disappearance.

And they say nothing happens in August . . .



So an Englishwoman of a certain age goes to a seaside town to visit a friend and relax.  Sounds nice and relaxing, right?  That's what Kate Shackleton thought too.  She stays at a hotel that happens to be near a jeweler's where her late husband bought her engagement ring lo those many years ago, which brings on some bittersweet memories.  But she gets past that and decides to get her god-daughter a bracelet at the jewelers, and finds the jeweler dead in the back room, the contents of his safe ... missing.

Kate obviously didn't know that saying, "...nothing happens in August..." is just like saying "What could go wrong?"  That's practically an engraved invitation for fate to barge in.

And there's another huge 'something' that happens that August ... Kate's god-daughter Felicity, runs away from home without telling her mother, Kate's friend, Alma.  She goes to find her father, who left them years ago, before he dies.  Felicity and her boyfriend borrow Jack's boat and have some harrowing adventures on the stormy waters around England and Scotland.

Some wonder if they killed the jeweler and took off in his boat.  But then, just about everyone in town is a suspect because Jack was apparently somewhat free with his affections amongst the ladies.

There's a fair bit of what you could call paranormal activity in and around the town.  Alma makes a living as a fortune teller and half-owns a house widely feared by the town to be haunted.  When they say, "It's hard to find good help around here," they mean it!  Eventually a cleaning woman is found from another town.

As if this weren't enough activity already, several folks in the town are involved in smuggling, mostly of the alcoholic beverage variety.  Kate spends a night in jail and has to call her father (a police bigwig in another locality) to spring her.

A death at the seaside, let's face it, would not be very fun.  But "Death at the Seaside" by Frances Brody is entertainment at high tide.  I'm looking forward to more of Kate's adventures in the future!



Frances Brody's highly-praised 1920s mysteries feature clever and elegant Kate Shackleton, First World War widow turned sleuth. Missing person? Foul play suspected? Kate's your woman. For good measure, she may bring along ex-policeman, Jim Sykes.

Before turning to crime, Frances wrote for radio, television and theatre, and was nominated for a Time Out Award. She published four sagas, winning the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award in 2006.

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