Death in the Dales is published by Piatkus, priced £8.99
When the landlord of a Yorkshire tavern is killed in the peaceful Yorkshire Dales village of Langcliffe, local woman Freda Simonson is the only witness to the crime.
Freda’s evidence is not believed and when a local man is wrongly convicted, she becomes plagued with guilt. Following her death it seems that the truth will never be uncovered.
This unfortunate state of affairs lies behind ‘Death in the Dales’ by Frances Brody, one of a series of mysteries featuring amateur sleuth Kate Shackleton.
No-one had reckoned on the skills of Kate, who - in 1926, a decade after the horrific event - arrives in the village for a holiday with her niece Harriet who is recuperating after illness.
The pair are staying in Freda’s house and soon Harriet strikes up a friendship with a local girl whose young brother has gone missing. Their search to find him leads Kate to uncover another suspicious death at a farm as well as an illicit affair. Without intending to, she becomes interested in the case of the landlord.
She begins to chat to villagers and the more she hears, the further embroiled she becomes, actively seeking out new leads.
The fast-moving novel is even more pleasing due to its real-life locations, many places being familiar to readers. Langcliffe itself, just a mile out of Settle, is a picture-postcard village of stone cottages wrapped around a village green, and the town of Settle itself features.
An outing to Catrigg Force waterfall produces vivid descriptions of this popular, dramatic 'dizzying' picnic spot in Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
Kate, who is dating Freda’s nephew - a local doctor who also owns Freda’s house - is soon uncovering secrets that Freda left behind. She comes to realise that this courageous woman has entrusted her with solving a murder from beyond the grave.
“She hoped you might look for the truth of what really happened,” the local apothecary - himself playing a role in the murder - tells her.
It is by no means plain sailing. “Fate conspired to make life difficult,” says Kate at one point. “All I could hope for just now was a better day tomorrow.”
It becomes clear to Kate that nothing in sleepy Langcliffe is quite as it appears, and with a murderer on the loose and an ever-growing list of suspects, the holiday is not the relaxing break that Kate expected.
In Kate, Brody has created an assured, self-reliant woman - rare in a society that still regarded them as second class citizens.