Friday, November 17, 2017

Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody

Image result for dying in the wool

I left behind Dahlia Moss and her amateur detecting from last week's post...she was entertaining, but I couldn't quite get with the computer gaming part of the tale.

So, I moved on to a British mystery that features an amateur sleuth who couldn't be more different. Meet 31-year-old Kate Shackleton. She is a widow, promising photographer, daughter of a police superintendent (which helps), and was a voluntary field nurse during World War I. She also has a penchant for finding people who have gone missing. 

Her first professional case comes to her when friend and former nurse colleague Tabitha asks her to find her missing father. Joshua Braithwaite was the successful owner of one of the many textile mills near Leeds. One day he simply walked away from his family, his village, and his business. Tabitha, who is to be married shortly, believes he is still alive and hires Kate to find him before the wedding.

The setting is the 1920s and I love reading about that time. The clever chapter headings all reference textile or mill terms — for example, crepe-de-chine, twisting-in, candlewick. There are intriguing historical details and descriptions of the mill and the difficult and dangerous life of its workers. (Think Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South.)

My only complaint is that there are too many instances when I am aware that the author is 'writing'. By that I mean there are character background details or descriptions that don't actually move the story forward. They seem forced. I guess I don't have patience for too many side trips. I want to get on with it.

This is the first in a series — there are nine mysteries so far. If you are a fan of Maisie Dobbs, these books will be sure to please.

Here is a quote I quite like regarding Kate's interest in photography. It could apply to any artistic endeavor.

Even when my photographs did not do justice to the scene, which was most of the time, simply framing the views developed a photographing habit that changed my way of seeing. A photographer's eye sharpens memory from a vague or hazy recollection to a clear image of an everlasting moment. Owning a camera gave me a new interest in people and landscapes, in markets and busy streets. It is a way of looking outside yourself and at the same time gathering up mental albums of memories.


  1. I can't believe there's yet another series I've never heard of before. She sounds an appealing heroine, and I always like it when there's a little character development, that the hero/heroine has additional interests, like Kate's photography. Interestingly, my mom said something similar recently about the descriptions in books--she wants the story to move ahead, and doesn't want a lot of extraneous description. I like description if it fits in seamlessly.

    1. Kathy, your mom and I would get along! I don't mind appropriate, and as you say, seamless descriptions and back stories, but I just want it to add to the tale and move it along. Especially in a mystery. The cover of this one is what caught my eye. It's lovely, don't you think? I love that kind of illustrative style.

    2. Yes, I like the cover, too. Cover design is so important. I was choosing between a couple of books this morning, and I put one aside because it's cover and design are completely unappealing to me. It's a used book I got through Paperback Swap, and one I want to read, but haven't been able to get past the design of it yet.

    3. That is so funny, Kathy. I too am smitten with attractive book covers...and even though you can't tell a book by its cover, it definitely counts.

      Maybe you could cover the ugly cover with a sheet of pretty wrapping paper cut to size. Since it's a swap, where's the harm?