Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody

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Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The sixth book in the brilliant Kate Shackleton series is an intriguing mystery, which might or might not be connected to the case Kate is officially working on. Another great story from an excellent stroyteller. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: October 2014
Publisher: 368
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0349400570

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Lady Coulton was keen to see Kate Shackleton on a matter of delicacy and enclosed a cheque for a hundred guineas with her letter. Kate decided that whatever the problem was it must be important and opted to make the journey to London and back to Leeds in the day - no easy task in the nineteen twenties - but it would lessen the chances of her bumping into someone she knew and to whom she would have to explain what she was doing. The two women met in the Cavendish Club and Lady Coulton explained that many years ago she had a child outside her marriage who was given up for adoption. The girl would now be in her twenties and her birth mother would like to trace her.

As Kate delved into Lady Coulton's past she was accidentally involved in a case of murder. She wouldn't have willingly associated herself with the exorcism at the Leeds Library, but there was a little arm twisting and persuasion and this led to the discovery of the body of Horatio Potter under a bookcase and a pile of books in the basement. Kate also - accidentally - became the carer of an intelligent Capuchin monkey by the name of Percy. The literary community of Leeds was in uproar as more scandals came to light. What exactly had happened to the very attractive library assistant who had disappeared suddenly? Why had an Italian organ grinder been found collapsed and seriously ill in the basement of the library? Could the battle for the vice-chancellorship of the university be a motive for the murder? And why is the head of the library so keen to get hold of an old student newspaper?

Here at Bookbag we're sent thousands of books a year: we're never short of something to read! But - we didn't get a copy of Death of an Avid Reader. As soon as I found out about it I bought it from the local bookshop and it went straight to the top of my reading pile: there was no point in doing anything else as the book was completely irresistible. This weight of expectation can mean that the reality of the book is something of a disappointment, but that wasn't the case here. Kate Shackleton is maturing well as a woman and as a detective and the relationship with her assistant, Jim Sykes, sings to the reader. It's completely platonic - and all the better for that.

It can't be denied that there's an extra appeal if you're familiar with the location of these books: the research is impeccable. If you know the area, you'll walk the streets with Shackleton and Sykes, but even if you don't know Leeds (or other places around Yorkshire) you'll get a wonderful feel for the city at a time when the country was recovering from the Great War, but not yet fearful that another was to follow. All the kate Shackleton books are pitch perfect in time and place.

But - it's the plot you want to know about, isn't it? Do you know, for a while I was worried. Was the story going to turn out to be predictable? Was the introduction of Percy the monkey stretching credibility just a little too far? I needn't have worried: all the elements fall perfectly into place and those parts which I initially doubted worked wonderfully. Now I've got to wait many months to find out what happens to Kate Shackleton next...

If the books appeal to you, you can read them as stand alones, but why spoil the pleasure of reading them in the order in which they were written? You'll find the chronological list here. It's difficult to recommend other crime novels of similar quality, but you might like to try lan Bradley's Flavia de Luce Mysteries.

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Buy Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody at


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