Publication date: 5 October 2017
Yorkshire, 1927. Eclipse fever grips the nation, and when beloved theatre star Selina Fellini approaches trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton to accompany her to a viewing party at Giggleswick School Chapel, Kate suspects an ulterior motive.
During the eclipse, Selina’s friend and co-star Billy Moffatt disappears and is later found dead in the chapel grounds. Kate can’t help but dig deeper and soon learns that two other members of the theatre troupe died in similarly mysterious circumstances in the past year. With the help of Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden, Kate sets about investigating the deaths – and whether there is a murderer in the company.
When Selina’s elusive husband Jarrod, injured in the war and subject to violent mood swings, comes back on the scene, Kate begins to imagine something far deadlier at play, and wonders just who will be next to pay the ultimate price for fame . . .
My Chronicle Book Box Review:
This book was included in the November 2017 Crime and Mystery My Chronicle Book Box.
This is the ninth Kate Shackleton novel from Frances Brody and another triumph in my opinion. I have read this series out of order (very unusual for me!) and can vouch that they each stand alone. If you enjoy this book do make sure to go back and read more as you will love having more background on our team of investigators: Kate Shackleton, private enquiry agent, Mrs Sugden, her housekeeper and Jim Sykes, former policeman.
The story is set in June 1927 when a total eclipse was experienced that dominated the public consciousness. It was the first such eclipse since 1724 and its path of totality crossed the north of England and Wales. Kate is asked to accompany the famous theatre performer Selina Fellini and comedian Billy Moffatt to a special viewing hosted by the Astronomer Royal and she cannot resist. It is not clear to Kate quite why she has been engaged to accompany Selina but her instincts tell her more to it than meets the eye. When Billy collapses in mysterious circumstances during the trip, Kate is drawn into investigating. The world of theatre and performers in which everyone is practised in the art of putting on an act, is a difficult one to penetrate and Billy’s is not the first mysterious death to occur in Selina’s circle, so Kate has her work cut out.
Kate Shackleton is a very engaging protagonist, sharp and determined yet caring and emotional with it. Despite having only just met Selina and Billy, the investigation feels very personal to Kate. The book was written such that I felt also concern for Kate’s safety from early on and this tension only added to my enjoyment.
Frances is a wonderful storyteller and has a distinctive writing style which I love. Clues and red herrings abound in this book before we are drawn through the evidence to the satisfying conclusion. I was particularly flummoxed by chapter 7 at first, which I enjoyed enormously!
A must read for Golden Age crime fans.
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