On the Bookshelf...

Death at the Seaside

Frances Brody

Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there. Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma's daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma's current gentleman friend. Kate can't help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller's shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby's idyllic fa├žade, it's up to Kate - ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden - to discover the truth behind Felicity's disappearance. And they say nothing happens in August . . .

Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody was a book I picked up in Whitby towards the end of last year. Ok it's not the sort of book I'd normally read, historical crime can leave me feeling cold. Yet when you're away you tend to pick up things you might not normally read. This being a story about Whitby seemed fitting. I'd recently read an Agatha Christie, so this seemed to be in the same vein.

Once again coming to a series halfway through, it was a gamble whether I needed to read any of the previous books to get up to speed. Happily, this wasn't the case. Prior knowledge isn't needed at all. The story kicks off in Whitby when Kate visits her god daughter, who when she arrives has run away. She also happens across the murder of a jeweller and becomes the prime suspect in the eyes of the local police.

The books full of Whitby places, Botham's the Bakers, the Abbey, the fortune teller on the front. It provides a rich background to the story. The story, you'd call it a cosy mystery, is a little flimsy at times. It's not one for the blood and gore merchants who need a death on every page. It's more an Agatha Miss Marple mystery. For that it has a great deal of charm. The main character, Kate, is well drawn. Someone who has a great deal of sympathy with others, while still having a keen eye to what's happening. Her sidekick, Jim Sykes, isn't shy of rolling his sleeves up to help find what's at the heart of the mystery.

I had mixed views about the book. At times it wasn't what I thought I'd like, but at others I couldn't put the book down. Yet I was won over by the whole story. It had just enough to keep me interested right until the end. I might even pick up some more of the series on the back of this. A good light read, ideal for a holiday... in Whitby.

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Review by
AJ Steel
April 14, 2023

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