Saturday, February 25, 2017

"A Death in the Dales"

A Death in the Dales, nominated for the CWA Historical Dagger, is seventh in Frances Brody’s 1920s Murder Mystery series featuring Kate Shackleton, First World War widow turned sleuth.

Brody applied the Page 69 Test to the new novel and reported the following:
It is the first Sunday in May. Kate Shackleton and her niece Harriet arrived in the village of Langcliffe less than twenty-four hours ago. Already two mysteries loom. Kate has been presented with material relating to a possible miscarriage of justice that occurred a decade ago.

Harriet’s concern is more recent. She has a new friend, Beth, whom she met yesterday on the village green during the Mayday celebrations. Young Beth works in the mill. Her brother, who was taken beyond the village to work on a farm, is missing.

Kate and Harriet go to the local church, St John the Evangelist. Villagers are arriving in their Sunday best for the mid-morning service.

Kate Shackleton narrates:
Inside, the church’s stained-glass windows, lit by the sun, gave it a lovely brightness. The organist played some stirring but unfamiliar hymn to hurry people into the pews. There were the usual flags and banners that I came to hate so much in the aftermath of war when they had grown dusty, and the hymns of sacrifice and patriotism made me feel nauseous.

I led us to a pew near the front where we could see the pictures on the windows to either side of the sanctuary. One of them made me smile, thinking of Harriet recovering from her illness. It was the raising of Jairus’s daughter, with the inscription, ‘The maid is not dead but sleepeth.’

When the service began, Harriet whispered, ‘We should have sat at the back, then we would have seen who’s here.’

‘People will congregate outside afterwards.’

The vicar sped nicely through the service and then came to the pulpit. He was an elderly man with sparse hair, a fine girth and a booming voice.
Kate was right. Churchgoers loiter after the service has ended. On the edge of the village green, Harriet spots her new friend Beth. Soon, their search for the missing brother will begin, and will intertwine with Kate’s search for justice in relation to a decade old crime.
Learn more about the book and author at Frances Brody's website.

--Marshal Zeringue