Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"Death of an Avid Reader"

Death of an Avid Reader is the sixth in Frances Brody’s 1920s series featuring Kate Shackleton, First World War widow turned sleuth.

Brody applied the Page 69 Test to the new novel and reported the following:
This is the oddest page 69 I have described. The incident fits into the plot but to say why would be a spoiler.

On a cold foggy day, Kate Shackleton has driven home from the haunted library, having given a lift to a loquacious neighbour. This neighbour clearly has something on her mind but doesn’t say what.

Kate has put her car in the garage. Later she must go back into town, having agreed to take part in a ceremony to lay the library’s ghost. She won’t drive, because of the fog, but will take the tramcar.

Thomas, a neighbour’s boy, knocks on Kate’s door to tell her that there is a noise from her garage. She suspects a childish prank, but investigates. Kate and Thomas find a scared but sociable stowaway hiding in the car: a monkey. Thomas wants to take the animal home but Kate knows that his mother wouldn’t approve.

As the monkey guzzles sweet tea from a saucer, Kate and her housekeeper, Mrs Sugden, discuss what to do. Mrs Sugden consults Mees’ Children’s Encyclopaedia in order to identify the creature.
‘It’s a Capuchin, said to be bright and intelligent. They like to swing through the woods and they’re not too fussy whether they eat nuts, berries or insects. They come from the Amazon.’

She glanced at the monkey. It was beside me, holding the hem of my skirt, its head tilted, listening to Mrs Sugden’s every word. She softened a little. ‘Poor little mite. He should have been left to swing through the trees. If he swings through our trees he’ll die of frostbite before you can say bananas.’
Ever conscious of life’s niceties, Mrs Sugden closes the curtains. She doesn’t want the neighbours to think that Kate Shackleton has started a menagerie.
Learn more about the book and author at Frances Brody's website.

Writers Read: Frances Brody.

--Marshal Zeringue