Kate Shackleton #11 by Frances Brody
Published on: November 12, 2019
In my mind, there is no better decade for mysteries than the 1920s and 1930s – where time is caught at the beginning of modernization and between two world wars. Where life was changing faster than anyone knew.
Two murders. A one-way ticket to trouble.
And it’s up to Kate to derail the killer.
London, 1929. In the darkness before dawn, a railway porter, unloading a special train from Yorkshire, discovers a man’s body, shot and placed in a sack. There are no means of identification to be found and as Scotland Yard hits a dead end, they call on the inimitable Kate Shackleton, a local sleuth, confident her local knowledge and investigative skills will produce results. But it’s no easy task.
Suspicion of political intrigue and fears of unrest in the Yorkshire coalfields, impose secrecy on her already difficult task. The murder of a shopkeeper, around the same time, seems too much of a coincidence. The convicted felon was found with blood on his hands, but it’s too tidy and Kate becomes convinced the police have the wrong man.
By then it’s too late. Kate finds herself in a den of vipers. The real killer is still at large, and having tinkered with Kate’s car, nearly causes her to crash. Not only that, but Scotland Yard has turned their back on her. As Kate edges toward the shocking truth, she’s going to need all the strength and resourcefulness she can muster to uncover this sinister web of deceit.
In The Body on the Train, Kate Shackleton is brought in by Scotland Yard to assist on a case where a man’s body has been found on a train carrying the forced rhubarb to London. Through sleuthing they learn the town from where the body probably originated from and so Kate maneuvers her way into being invited to stay at Thorpefield Manor, the home of a friend of hers, where she stays with under the guise of working on a magazine commission that will allow her to explore, ask questions, and take lots of photographs. One thing the manor doesn’t lack is plenty of suspects, not to mention the nearby friends, who come by from time to time.
Although this is the 11th book in the series, this is my first Kate Shackleton book to read. Due to this I found the beginning of the story a little challenging to get into. I wasn’t familiar with any of the characters so there was a learning gap I had to overcome, but I also had to adjust to the short sentences as well as the manor in which Kate talks to herself, or to us. However, while her sardonic wit she used when making internal comments was difficult for me at first, I did grow to appreciate it and understand it as I continued through the story. In fact, as much as I struggled at the beginning of the story, there came a point I couldn’t put the book down. I became so invested in making sure the suspects were discovered and that justice was served that I knew I had to read it straight through.
In addition to the mystery, the book takes up subjects such as children who are orphans or were born from unwed parents and can’t keep them, work houses, mining and the changing energy industry, just to name a few. The varying characters that assist Kate all added nice textures and layers to the story that I found engaging. And as it stands I can’t decide if I liked Sykes or Mrs. Sugden more.
Overall, a nice mystery story and one I look forward to continuing to read. Thank goodness there are several books in this series.
Rating: 4 stars
Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.