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Saturday 1 December 2018

‘A Snapshot of Murder’ by Frances Brody

Published by Piatkus,
25 October 2018.
ISBN: 978-0-349-41432-4 (HB)

It is 1928 and Kate Shackleton’s business as a private investigator is going smoothly, which means that she has more time to spend on her hobby of photography and she has joined a local Photographic Society. Most of the members of the society are enthusiastic amateurs, but Kate’s friend Carine Murchison is a professional photographer who works in the studio founded by her late grandmother. Everybody likes and admires Carine, who is a lovely, radiant young woman, but many of her friends have reservations about her husband, Tobias, who appears genial when first encountered but is a heavy drinker and bully who takes all the money that Carine earns to spend on drink. Derek Blondell, a young man who works in the local newspaper library, is infatuated with Carine. Derek tells Kate’s niece, Harriet, that Tobias is physically violent to Carine, and Kate herself has noticed that he is very domineering. To make Carine’s life even harder, her elderly, bedridden and demanding father lives with them. Carine’s life has been scarred by two unbearable losses. Her mother disappeared when Carine was five and her father claimed that she had run away with her lover. In a more recent tragedy, Carine’s fiancé, Philip Chester had been reported dead in the Great War. Carine’s father had prevented her marriage to Philip before he went off to war and had encouraged her marriage to Tobias after he had come to tell Carine of Philip’s death.

At a meeting of the Photographic Society, Derek proposes a weekend away for the members to pursue their hobby. His proposal is seconded by a man with a badly scarred face, whom Carine recognises as Philip. Amid this atmosphere of tension, the weekend trip is arranged. The group of photographers decide to visit Haworth, in order to combine their photographic trip with the ceremony to celebrate the Bronte’s parsonage becoming a national museum. One of the group, Rita, tells Kate that she had a dream that seven of them would set out but only six return. This dream becomes reality and it is up to Kate to help discover whether the murderer is one of her photographer friends.

A Snapshot of Murder is the tenth book in the series featuring Kate Shackleton and it is a series that grows in depth and warmth all the time. Kate is an appealing central protagonist, kind and generous but also strong and sensible, and her family and friends are equally likeable. I particularly liked Kate’s new acquisition, a delightful ‘failed’ police bloodhound called Sergeant Dog. The plot of A Snapshot of Murder is well-paced, interesting and the background detail is, as always, impeccably researched and beautifully woven into the narrative, giving a clear and detailed picture of Yorkshire ten years after the end of the Great War. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book and a real page turner.

Kate Shackleton’s First Case
As an extra there is also a short story that describes how Kate Shackleton first became an investigator who specialised in locating men missing after the War. In it, Kate is still unable to accept that her husband is really dead and has gained considerable skills in finding the truth about other missing people. The bulk of the story describes how Kate comes to the aid of a friend who is being stalked by a vicious ex-boyfriend. It is through this experience that Kate discovers the direction she wishes her life to take. This is an engrossing story with some delightful glimpses of Kate’s relationship with her twin brothers. It is a very pleasant addition to an excellent book.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Frances Brody is a pseudonym of Frances McNeil who lives in Leeds where she was born and grew up. She worked in the USA as a secretary in Washington DC and New York. Frances studied at Ruskin College, Oxford and read English Literature and History at York University. Starting her writing life in radio, she has written scripts for television and theatre. Frances turned to crime for her first novel, Dying in the Wool, set on the outskirts of Bradford, Yorkshire in the 1920s.  Eight further books have followed featuring Kate Shackleton.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book 
 Strangers and Angels click on the title.

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