Murder in the Afternoon (Kate Shackleton Series #3)


An intricate plot in the post-WWI English countryside and Frances Brody's "refreshingly complex heroine" (Kirkus) combine in Murder in the Afternoon, an absorbing mystery.

Dead one minute…

Young Harriet and her brother Austin have always been scared of the quarry where their stone mason father works. So when they find him dead on the cold ground, they rush off quickly to look...

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Murder in the Afternoon (Kate Shackleton Series #3)

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An intricate plot in the post-WWI English countryside and Frances Brody's "refreshingly complex heroine" (Kirkus) combine in Murder in the Afternoon, an absorbing mystery.

Dead one minute…

Young Harriet and her brother Austin have always been scared of the quarry where their stone mason father works. So when they find him dead on the cold ground, they rush off quickly to look for some help.

Alive the next?

When help arrives, however, the quarry is deserted and there is no sign of the body. Were the children mistaken? Is their father not dead? Did he simply get up and run away?

A sinister disappearing act

It seems like another unusual case requiring the expertise of Kate Shackleton--and Mary Jane, the children's mother, is adamant that only she can help.  But Mary Jane is hiding something--a secret from Kate's past that raises the stakes and puts both Kate and her family at risk.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the prologue of Brody’s engaging third Kate Shackleton mystery set in post-WWI England (after 2013’s A Medal for Murder), Harriet Armstrong and her younger brother, Austin, find the body of their stone mason father, Ethan, lying in a hut by the quarry where he works. Harriet goes to a nearby farm for help, but the body is gone by the time she returns. Ethan’s wife, Mary Jane, later asks Kate, who is a private detective, to investigate; she also gives Kate news of her family that changes her life. Was Ethan really dead, or did he merely disappear? Kate and her assistant, Jim Sykes, uncover one puzzle after another in their search for the stone mason, who made enemies as a labor agitator, drawing the unwelcome attention of national authorities. The bucolic setting of the village of Great Applewick and the period atmosphere add authentic touches to this finely drawn traditional mystery with multiple storylines. Agent: Judith Murdoch, Judith Murdoch Literary Agency (U.K.). (Feb.)
From the Publisher

Prasie for Frances Brody and the Kate Shackleton Mysteries:

"Frances Brody has that indefinable quality of the born storyteller who knows just how much it takes to hold the reader's attention." –Daily Mail (UK)

“Kate Shackleton joins Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs…. They make excellent heroines.” --Literary Review

Praise for Murder in the Afternoon

“Frances Brody succeeds brilliantly. . . Her post-war world in which making any sort of living is hard grind and where an independent career woman is viewed with hostility is entirely convincing. Kate is a heroine to like and admire. . . Her further adventures are eagerly awaited.” --The Daily Mail

Praise for A Medal for Murder

“Brody again displays her prodigious talent for misdirection, tempered by her fair play with clues that render the possibility that the reader will not be fooled. But don’t bet on it…. Steeped in period color, A Medal for Murder again showcases a winning heroine and a clever plot, a combination reminiscent of the genre’s golden age but one made fresh and gripping by an author who melds murder with mercy.” –Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Brody’s excellent second offers a morally conflicted sleuth, historically detailed flashbacks to the Boer War and a clever mystery indeed.” --Kirkus

“This lusciously written historical cozy is an excellent addition to the crowded 1920s market, and Brody’s second series entry (after Dying in the Wool) positions her for deserved attention. Her gentle and traditional structure (noteworthy use of flashbacks) pairs nicely with Kerry Greenwood (see review above) and Jacqueline Winspear titles.” –Library Journal

“The traditional British mystery is alive and well, thanks in part to Frances Brody and her lady detective, Kate Shackleton… Kate is very adept at sizing people up and maximizing the information that she can get from them…I especially liked the number of curves the author threw in toward the end of the novel.” –Mystery Scene

“Detective Kate Shackleton solves her second murder mystery in this fun, well-plotted mystery set in 1920s Harrogate… Brody presents us with a mystery full of lively characters and significant stories of both past and present. As Faulkner said, the past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past. Brody’s mystery is expertly crafted and keeps the reader guessing right up until the last pages, as a good mystery should.” –

“More twists and turns than a country road. I hope that Ms. Brody writes more of these novels because I thoroughly enjoyed this one… I just had to keep reading so that I could try to figure out who the murderer was. I never knew until the last page and then I still wondered if they caught the real murderer.” –

“These gentle crime novels, that have you guessing at every turn… are a pure joy.  Refreshing and highly entertaining, especially for the winter nights.” – Yorkshire Gazette and Herald

"A Medal for Murder contains all the elements of crime fiction - theft, kidnap, murder, a feisty private detective, a handsome Detective Inspector, a (sometimes) dour sidekick, plenty of suspects and all the twists and turns we expect from our genre…. A work of extraordinary depth, lightness of touch and strength of characterisation." --Mystery Women

“[Kate Shackleton’s] lively wit and intuitive abilities serve her well as she steps into the limelight of this drama filled with theft, deception, assumed identities, faked kidnapping, blackmail, and murder-- a veritable theatrical trunk full of mystery-plot props.  The author's period details-- including some flashbacks to the Boer War, involving incidents vital to the present-day plot-- add further historical flavor and thoroughly enhance Brody's show.”

“The setting of A Medal for Murder is England in the 1920s, an idyllic time for crime solving. The right mix of mobility (motor cars) and technology (telephone and telegraph) keeps the story moving along at a pleasant place… The story line is enhanced by quips, fashion and social commentary and generally charming banter among the characters. Mystery fans not familiar with Ms. Brody’s mystery series are encouraged to catch up post haste! Highly recommended.” --

Praise for Dying in the Wool

"The first in a planned series introduces a refreshingly complex heroine and adds a fine feeling for the postwar period." –Kirkus


"Brody, who has written historical fiction, presents a carefully researched setting, with accurate references to the popular culture of the day and clear explanations of the dyeing and weaving processes at the mill." --Booklist

"Excellent.... Ms. Brody does an excellent job of keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. DYING IN THE WOOL has a lot of unanticipated twists and turns. I was completely surprised at the end! There were so many ways the story could have gone. Cheers to the author for keeping us in suspense until the very last pages.  I can't wait to read more Kate Shackleton! This is a series I am definitely hooked on." --

"Dying in the Wool has a winning heroine, a fresh and fascinating setting, richly detailed and well-woven into the plot, and a mystery that twists and tightens and twists again, before pulling together to a surprising and satisfying solution." --Catriona McPherson, author of Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains

“Reminiscent of Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie with a thoroughly likeable protagonist and a plot that held me to the end.” --Mignon F. Ballard, author of the Miss Dimple Kilpatrick Mystery Series

“This well-plotted and atmospheric tale is enriched by technical expertise and a vividly imagined Yorkshire setting.  Kate Shackleton joins Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs in a sub-group of young female amateur detectives who survived and were matured by their wartime experiences…. They make excellent heroines.” --Literary Review

“Brody’s winning tale of textile industry shenanigans is shot through with local color.” –The Independent (UK)

 “Highly entertaining… Frances Brody writes with charm and yet knows how to keep the reader guessing at every stage of the book. If you like pure detective novels you will love this.” --Gazette & Herald (UK)

“The story, with its secure setting in the richly-detailed woollen industry, is an excellent read.  The characterization is strong and convincing and the sense of period well conveyed.”-- Mystery Women

“The background detail of milling and dyeing is spot on … as is her ear for the West Riding accent and dialect. The plot twists nicely and the denouement was, to me, unexpected.” --Country Life

“This is whimsical, colorful stuff and readers will warm to the entrepreneurial yet fragile Kate.” –Take a Break

“Kate Shackleton is a delightful leading character.  The flavor of First World War England is beautifully portrayed.  The world of the mill and the mill owner has gone, but in this book it is easy to image what it must have been like…. [Kate’s] aristocratic connections give the story a whiff of Wimsey and a touch of Christie, but mostly this is just an enjoyable and gripping mystery story with a nasty sting in the tail.”

Dying in the Wool is a delightful book… the descriptive detail of the countryside and small village of Bridgestead is so vivid I could literally have been there.  Kate Shackleton is a wonderful character and I connected with her immediately. She's a very determined soul in a time when women were still treated as second class citizens…. A very gentle book, but with a lot of substance.” –

 “The 1920s are a fascinating and under-used period for new crime fiction, so it’s a particular pleasure to have Frances setting her story at that time. Kate Shackleton is a splendid heroine … I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!”--Ann Granger


Kirkus Reviews
The death of a radical stonemason changes the life of a sleuth forever. Kate Shackleton is a World War I widow who still hasn't given up hope that her MIA husband is alive. Adopted as a baby by a high-ranking police officer and his aristocratic wife, she's never had any interest in her birth family. When a woman pounds on her door in the middle of the night and announces that she's Kate's sister, Mary Jane Armstrong, Kate takes up the case of her missing husband. It seems that Mary Jane had a quarrel with her husband, Ethan, when he went off on Saturday to work on a special sundial for the local lady of the manor's birthday. Her daughter Harriet and her son Austin sneaked off to the quarry while Mary Jane was shopping only to discover their father's body. Once the police go to investigate, however, they find no body and conclude that Harriet made it up and Ethan has deserted his family. Kate soon learns some things about her long-lost sister that make her a possible candidate if Ethan was murdered. Mary Jane, who had worked for the wealthy mine owner who'd commissioned the sundial, admits that the large sum of money in her secret bank account came from Col. Ledger, who had taken "artistic" pictures of her and his stunning wife when she worked for them. Ethan's radical connections bring Kate's lover, Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Marcus Charles, in on the case. But the discovery of Ethan's body under a pile of rocks in the quarry puts Marcus at odds with Kate since he suspects Mary Jane. Brody's third in the series (A Medal for Murder, 2013, etc.) is a perfect fit for lovers of classic British mysteries who'd like to watch a clever, introspective, delightful heroine solve a tricky puzzle.
Library Journal
★ 02/01/2014
One Saturday afternoon, stonemason Ethan Armstrong is murdered. Oddly, his ten-year-old daughter, Harriet, was the only one to see his corpse in his workshop. When the authorities arrive later, the body has disappeared. Harriet's observations are not taken seriously, except by her mother, Mary Jane, who asks PI Kate Shackleton to investigate. Over the period of a week, Kate gradually untwists a number of village secrets, including some of her own. While Ethan's political leanings (he was a leftist union organizer) made him many enemies, it may be that other long-held secrets led to his death. VERDICT This meaty historical set in post-World War I England succeeds as a satisfying traditional mystery and as a fascinating historical novel tackling women's roles in the early 1920s. Brody's series, now at three (after A Medal for Murder), merits serious attention. While leisurely paced, it never lags, instead inviting quiet time on the couch with a cuppa. Partners well with Jacqueline Winspear and Kerry Greenwood.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250037022
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/11/2014
  • Series: Kate Shackleton Series, #3
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 480,905
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

FRANCES BRODY is the author of Dying in the Wool, A Medal for Murder, and Murder in the Afternoon.  She lives in the North of England, where she was born and grew up. Frances started her writing life in radio, with many plays and short stories broadcast by the BBC. She has also written for television and theatre. Her one woman play Jehad was nominated for a Time Out award. Before turning to crime, she wrote historical sagas under her real name, winning the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin award for most regionally evocative debut saga of the millennium.

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