Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Review of "Murder in the Afternoon" by Frances Brody




It's the early 1920's in England and youngsters Harriet and Austin Armstrong take lunch to their dad, stone mason Ethan, at the quarry where he works. Shockingly, they find him on the ground, apparently dead. The kids run off to get help but when they return the body is gone. Dissatisfied with the police response Ethan's wife, Mary Jane, asks private detective Kate Shackleton for help. As it happens Kate was adopted as a baby and Mary Jane reveals she's Kate's biological sister. Thus, in this third book in the series, Kate gets to meet some of her biological relatives.

Ethan's body is subequently found and Mary Jane becomes a prime suspect. However, Kate - feeling her blood ties - is determined to demonstrate Mary Jane's innocence. Kate learns that, on the day he died, Ethan was working on a sundial for the wife of local bigwig Colonel Ledger - a sundial that's since been vandalized and destroyed. Kate also discovers that Mary Jane once had a close association with the Ledger household and was well-acquainted with other people that had conflicts with Ethan. Adding to Kate's problem, her beau - Scotland Yard Detective Marcus Charles - seems to think Mary Jane is guilty.

Kate continues to investigate with the help of her assistant, former policeman Jim Sykes. This provides a few smiles as Sykes pretends to be a hosiery salesman to do his sleuthing. Some humor is also provided by Kate's scheme to unmask an apparent gold-digger who advertises for a wealthy husband in the newspaper.

There are plenty of potential suspects in this cozy, and an interesting peek into the lives of some of the British 'upper-crust' and 'lower-crust'. I enjoyed the story, which is well-written and contains an engaging array of characters.

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