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Murder in the Afternoon
Kate Shackleton Murder Mystery Series - Book III
Frances Brody

Piatkus (little, Brown)
1 March 2012 / ISBN-13: 9780749954871
Mystery / 1923 / Yorkshire, England
Amazon US - UK

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

Twelve-year-old Harriet and her little brother, Austin, have gone to the quarry where their mason father works to take him his tea. When they get there, it is to find him seemingly unconscious - or dead - on the floor. They go to the nearby farm for help, but when help comes, the body has vanished, or was it ever there? The local policeman thinks that Harriet is making it all up, but the children's mother has other ideas and contacts Kate Shackleton for aid in solving the mystery. She has her own special reason for doing so…

Told alternately in Kate's own words and a third person viewpoint when Kate is absent, this novel paints a convincing picture of life in rural Yorkshire during the 1920s. This is a period when the war is not long past, and life is still fairly feudal. The local lord of the manor has his rights and the working man and his family do not, although certain people are trying to change all that. There is a contrast, too, between Kate's comfortable life and that of the Armstrong family, and it is the well drawn historical background that makes this book interesting to read and very much about contrasts. The plot itself could do with a bit of editing, as, frankly, it is rather on the slow side and would be all the better for a bit more momentum. However, in delving more deeply into the lives of the characters involved, this does become more than just another historical whodunit, and drawing upon earlier plot strands makes for a more well-rounded tale.

Reviewed 2012