The Body on the Train (Kate Shackleton Mysteries) by Frances Brody
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|The Body on the Train (Kate Shackleton Mysteries) by Frances Brody|
|Category: Crime (Historical)|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: This might be the eleventh book in the Kate Shackleton series but it's up there with the best of them: a real cracker which didn't work out the way I was expecting at all! Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: October 2019|
|External links: Author's website|
From Christmas to Easter a train ran from Leeds City Station to King's Cross, arriving before dawn so that the forced rhubarb it carried could be taken to Covent Garden. In early March 1929 one of the porters who was unloading the boxes discovered the body of a man, stripped naked and with no means of identification. Scotland Yard hit a dead end and called on the services of Kate Shackleton in the hope that her knowledge and connections in Yorkshire would give them the lead they needed. Kate immediately found herself hamstrung: Commander Woodhead remembered her as a child and could not come to terms with the fact that she was now a woman experienced in dealing with murder. He was reluctant to give her all the information which the police held.
It wasn't long since the General Strike and there were still fears of unrest in the Yorkshire coalfields, so Kate had to conduct her investigations in secret. What should have been known to Scotland Yard, but hadn't been mentioned to Kate, was that there was another murder at about the same time. It might have been a coincidence, but Kate believed that there was a connection. Her investigations uncovered a web of intrigue, even amongst people she would have considered as friends. Then attempts were made on her life.
The Body on the Train is the eleventh book in the Kate Shackleton mysteries and it's no mean feat to keep a series fresh for ten years, but Frances Brody has done this in style with an entry which is up there with the best of the series. The supporting characters which we've come to know so well - her assistant, Sykes, and housekeeper, Mrs Sugden, play a big part in the plot and I have to confess to preferring the books where they play a substantial part. Shackleton seems to work best as a member - and leader - of a team, not least because there were always going to be areas where a woman could not make enquiries in 1929 and situations where Mrs Sugden's more 'woman of the people' approach would work better. This team is always more than the sum of its parts.
The location of the story - both physically and in time - is captured perfectly. A great deal of research has obviously been done but it's also been used judiciously. I never had the feeling that every fact was being shoehorned in mercilessly, but rather than I was reading an author who knew a great deal more than she felt the need to tell us. The book - and the series - is highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
It's set more than twenty years later, but another series of similar quality begins with Brighton Belle: a Mirabelle Bevan Mystery by Sara Sheridan.
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