A Death in the Dales is set in the post WWI era in England. Kate Shackleton is a forward thinking young woman who is a private investigator. She takes her niece to a small Yorkshire village to convalesce after recovering from diphtheria. Little does she know that she is about to stir a hornet’s nest.
As surprising as it sounds, I have already encountered a 1920s young woman sleuth in Phryne Fisher. Kate is pretty independent for a single woman of her time. She is being courted by a country doctor and has agreed to take up his offer of spending time in his country cottage. She hopes to spend some quality time with him and come to a decision about their future. Harriet, the niece, is a smart 14 year old girl.
The village of Langcliffe is your typical sleepy British village. It appears tranquil to the eye but there are many mysteries buried below the surface. Kate is burdened with one such ‘cold case’ on her first day in the village. She is presented with a box belonging to the deceased aunt. Freda Simonson was a witness to a murder. She goes to her grave believing that the wrong man was hanged. And she wants Kate to prove it.
The local squire’s wife has a deep dark secret Lady Chatterley style, except everyone knows it. Kate sets off with small errands like finding a missing boy and comes across a dead farmer. It turns out that the farmer was helped along. All these adventures obviously impede the path of love. She does get a proposal but has no time to consider it.
The book creates the right atmosphere of a classic British mystery. There are more than one mystery or case which adds to the thrill. Any one of them would have made the book a good read. Having more than one elevates it to a must read. however, I am not very pleased with the way it turned out. Of course, this is entirely a personal opinion. But out of the myriad reasons there could have been for a murder motive, I wonder why the author chose this one. It just did not sit well with me.
Another plot point I was not too keen about came toward the end. I am not sure if there are other books with the Kate Shackleton character. But the end is a bit horrific. Its like all those other murders and vices in the village were not enough, here comes something more evil!
Mystery book lovers, especially fans of classic British mysteries have an excellent one in A Death in the Dales.