Take one quiet Yorkshire village, Bridgestead is a peaceful spot: a babbling brook, rolling hills and a working mill at its heart. Pretty and remote, nothing exceptional happens.
Add a measure of mystery ...
Until the day that Master of the Mill Joshua Braithwaite goes missing in dramatic circumstances, never to be heard of again.
A sprinkling of scandal ...
Now Joshua's daughter is getting married and wants one last attempt at finding her father. Has he run off with his mistress, or was he murdered for his mounting coffers?
And Kate Shackleton, amateur sleuth extraordinaire!
Kate Shackleton has always loved solving puzzles. So who better to get to the bottom of Joshua's mysterious disappearance? But as Kate taps into the lives of the Bridgestead dwellers, she opens cracks that some would kill to keep closed.
Frances Brody's highly-praised 1920s mysteries feature clever and elegant Kate Shackleton, First World War widow turned sleuth. Missing person? Foul play suspected? Kate's your woman. For good measure, she may bring along ex-policeman, Jim Sykes.
Before turning to crime, Frances wrote for radio, television and theatre, and was nominated for a Time Out Award. She published four sagas, winning the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award in 2006.
In the quiet village of Bridgestead, Joshua Braithwaite, master of the mill goes missing. Is he dead? Or has he departed from his life in Yorkshire and is living elsewhere? Tabitha, Joshua’s daughter who is getting married, wants to know the truth. She wants him at her wedding, to give her away, if he is still alive. So she hires her friend Kate Shackleton, amateur sleuth to find out the truth. But she encounters some opposition, as not everyone wants to know why Joshua has disappeared. This started off well. I liked Kate as a character and some of the humorous comments. But then it diverted, with various chapters from other characters and their points of view and other times. This made it less interesting and gave it a disjointed, choppy feel. My husband who has also read it found the same about this aspect. The longer it went on, the more it became a chore to keep reading and maintain interest. I would far rather have stayed only with Kate. The book could have done with being shorter. I ended up skimming and didn’t feel I missed anything of importance. What started out holding my interest became a slog. So, if this is a sample of the writing style I doubt I will be reading any more in this series. Others who like cosy mysteries may fare better than I did with this one.
2.5 stars I thought the story was rather thin and too long. It would have improved with a 50 pages less. Still, as it is the first in a series I will certainly try the next one because a series often improves with each new book.
Dying in the Wool is a delightful book. It's everything I hoped it would be for a cosy mystery. I really enjoyed the authors writing style, it's beautiful and very English. The time is set in the 1920's and 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 widow pursuing a great love of photography and solving mysteries.
Kate is sweet and yet assertive, and although trembles internally at conflict, outwardly glows confidence and assurance. Her insecurities warmed me to her and yet I loved the fact she was also strong when she needed to be.
She has also had heart ache in her past, losing her husband to the war, but because his body was never found, cannot truly let herself believe he is dead. I really enjoyed this underlying story. It gives Kate more depth as a character and makes me want to read future books and discover whether her fears or hopes are realised.
However, Dying in the Wool has it's very own mystery to solve with the disappearance of Joshua Braithwaite, and Kate takes on her first professional job when she's hired to find him by her friend, and Braithwaite's daughter, Tabitha.
I found Kate's sleuthing very entertaining, and although at times the story dragged a little, it soon picked up again with a dead body or two! Kate is extremely capable as a private investigator and totally holds her own in such a male dominated society.
The other characters present were all very well rounded and they all had a definite part to play in the unravelling mystery of Joshua Braithwaite. I liked Kate's friend Tabitha and I felt her anguish with regards to her father's disappearance, until that is the last couple of chapters when she turned on Kate quite unexpectedly. Even with Kate nearly being killed herself, Tabitha revoked Kate's invitation to her wedding because she didn't like the outcome. This does not a friend make!
Dying in the Wool is, for the majority, from Kate's first person point of view, but there are a few chapters scattered throughout which are from the third person perspective of other characters, which gives us details of their lives surrounding the time Joshua Braithwaite went missing. I didn't understand why this was done as once the mystery came to it's satisfying conclusion, I didn't see the need for these additional chapters and if they were not included wouldn't have detracted anything from the story.
Also, because Kate was not present, I felt I was given information that even my narrator didn't know about and this didn't seem right for a mystery. If these chapters were not included it would also have made the story a tad shorter, which in my opinion, would have been a welcome edit.
Dying in the Wool is a very gentle book, but with a lot of substance. I loved the 1920s setting, which is described incredibly well. I am very much looking forward to reading the next mystery featuring Kate Shackleton, A Medal for Murder - a review will be coming soon!
Read a review on here which encouraged me to try out these mysteries. I have loved the Maisie Dobbs series and (in particular in the early novels), was impressed with Miss Winspear's authentic recreation of the times. In Frances Brody's series, Kate Shackleton is a widow who takes up the role of private investigator after the end of WW1. The descriptions of the locations, the environment and the social scene in the early 1920s is beautifully done. I was drawn in from the beginning and really liked Kate who seems a much warmer, realistic individual already! The characters are well drawn and believable and the plot developments work well. I liked the humour as well as the social history insights. The writer wears her scholarship lightly but has clearly done a lot of research. I am looking forward to reading the next books in the series and getting to know Kate better!
This was a charity shop find, I was intrigued by the cover as it looked like it could be interesting. Sadly I was disappointed, not because of the actual story but, be a it was so slow. It was set in the 1920’s when the pace of life was much slower so, the writing was bang in tune with that time. The descriptions and the way the main character solved the mystery made me think of an Agatha Christie novel which are written in a very similar way. There are a lot of these books in the series and from the reviews I’ve read people love them. Maybe the next one I’ve got I will be better prepared for this type of writing.
This the 1st book in the series, but the 2nd that I read. I was correct in that there was more backstory than what was revealed in the 2nd book. So kudos for not revisiting every little thing in book 2.
However, there was so much shoved into this book, it was like a particularly heavy dumpling to try and digest. Overwritten, with too many little side... story-ettes. A reader could be forgiven for thinking that the author intended to never write another book.
There was a cat, a photography contest, auntie's birthday party, VAD club, battered wife, housekeeper and hobby, romance (? for the heroine? or not? one? or two?). Then add 3 chapters from different POVs from the past, that did nothing a decent exposition could not have revealed (and in far fewer words).
No minor plot stone was left unturned in this literary hodgepodge. But the main character is appealing, in spite of it.
The fact that I know the tone is a bit lighter (and not QUITE so overwritten) in book 2 leaves me willing to tackle book 3, which I would not have been if book 1 had been my only experience. There is room for improvement... here's hoping.
At one point in “Dying in the Wool,” private investigator Kate Shackleton’s assistant claims they are “plodding in the dark.” I had to laugh. This novel was nothing if not plodding.
A little background: A PI-by-accident, Kate is an appealing, independent 31-year-old, who is about to undertake her first case for pay. It is 1923, Yorkshire, England. Ex-policeman Jim Sykes (“Mr. Plod”) assists her in solving the mysterious disappearance 7 years earlier of wealthy mill owner Joshua Braithwaite.
At first hesitant to elevate her status from amateur to professional -- does she really have the requisite skills? -- Kate agrees because the client is a friend, Tabitha Braithwaite, and because she thoroughly sympathizes with Tabitha’s reluctance to believe her father is dead. Kate’s husband, a surgeon, was last seen in France near the end of the war -- and Kate wants so much to believe he is still alive.
Joshua Braithwaite’s disappearance came two days after his unconscious body was discovered by several Boy Scouts in a stream near their campsite. Certain parties believed he had attempted suicide, which in that time could have resulted in a prison sentence. The local constable chose instead to place him in a hospital for observation. The next afternoon Braithwaite was nowhere to be found.
So Kate is immediately faced with two dilemmas: why and how did Tabitha’s father end up in the water? and why did he leave the hospital, never to be heard from again? Neither of these questions had been answered in the immediate investigations (and why was that?). And when Kate’s fledgling probing is followed by the baffling deaths of two mill workers, the convolutions begin.
There are the fiance, the doctor, the “uncle,” the fortune teller, and her husband, all of whom may be hiding pertinent information, plus disgruntled workers, illegal wartime activities, a mysterious painting, an explosion at a munitions plant, and the war death of the Braithwaite son. There is a puzzling appearance by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There are infatuations and affairs, rumored and otherwise. And there is the daughter who desperately wants her father to be alive and the wife who doesn’t.
Oh, and the deadline: 5 weeks hence when Tabitha -- herself something of an enigma -- will be getting married and dreams of walking down the aisle with her father.
I was befuddled. I mixed up Albert, Arnold, and Arthur, Stafford and Stoddard, Bradford, Bridgestead, and Braithwaites. I couldn’t keep track of Kate’s discoveries and their relevance, so I just kept plodding along. I prefer that a mystery chug along nicely and not get derailed by the reader’s confusions of who, what, and where.
Kate Shackleton has now appeared in Brody’s second in the series, “A Medal for Murder.” Maybe her first case will have taught Kate a few things, but I haven’t decided yet if I care to find out.
A quiet Yorkshire village is shaken by a scandalous secret ...
This is quirky historical crime fiction with a wonderfully whimsical female narrator.
I did like the main character/detective/narrator - the book takes place just after WW1 in England. The main character has just taken her first paying private investigation case for a friend of hers. Kate is hired to find Tabby's father who has been missing and presumed dead for 4 years.
The book just dragged and dragged on, though, so I didn't really enjoy it - I only completed it because I liked Kate Shackleford as the main character. She has an assistant, Mr. Sykes, who was almost completely overlooked, I would have liked to see more of his character.
If there is a 2nd book in this series, maybe she will develop Mr Sykes character a little and move the story on a little faster.
I read this for a bit of light relief but was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. There's no gore or blood and guts but the characters, settings and twists and turns were great.
It's just after WW1 and Kate Shackleton's husband is 'missing in action'. Kate has helped other families find husbands,sons, brothers who are missing from their homes for a variety of reasons and now an old friend gets in touch and actually hires Kate to help solve the mystery of her father's death. Kate is solid, sensible and funny at times.
I really enjoyed this first outing with Kate Shackleton, budding private investigator in post-WWI Yorkshire. When this story opens Kate, a former nurse in the Great War, has quietly investigated several cases of soldiers who went missing in the fog of war; she gets satisfaction in finding answers for grieving families, and it had helped her cope with the loss of her own missing-in-action husband. But now a fellow nursing volunteer from the war years, Tabitha Braithewaite, has contacted Kate and offered to pay for her detecting services, asking our heroine to track down her missing father before her upcoming wedding.
Kate enters Tabitha's world of a small Yorkshire village dominated by the local mill and the family that runs it, and right away stirs up the locals with her motor car and her camera and her questions; luckily Kate's father, who is a highly ranked police superintendent, has recommended former police officer Joe Sykes as a sidekick to assist her behind the scenes with her investigation. Sikes is invaluable and a fun and funny character, and he and Kate have good chemistry. Author Brody does a great job bringing the time and place alive, and the reader feels the deep losses inflicted by the Great War that will continue to reverberate down the years, influencing, molding and limiting the futures of so many people regardless of age, class or background.
I look forward to looking for the rest of the books in this series and find Brody worthy of comparisons to the post-WWI mysteries of Jacqueline Winspear starring Maisie Dobbs; as much as I like Maisie, I have to say I think I like Kate more for her flashes of humor and stiff upper lip.
Kate Shackleton - widowed during World War I - has made a reputation for herself finding missing people. Her friend Tabitha asks her if she will try and find her missing father before her own wedding. Kate at first is reluctant to do so as she feels it is impossible after nearly 7 years to find Joshua Braithwaite - alive or dead, and she's not comfortable being paid for something she's always done free. She decided to try because there seemed to be a lot about Joshua's disappearance which hadn't been explained. The more information Kate uncovers the more uneasy she becomes. Ably assisted by Jim Sykes - a former policeman - Kate uncovers a tangled web of relationships and secrets.
Interspersed with a few of flashbacks to 1916 when Joshua went missing, the story is narrated by Kate. The style is down to earth and easy to read with flashes of humour. I liked both Jim and Kate and I thought all the characters were realistic and true to their time. I enjoyed the story which had the right degree of complexity and enough clues to lead the reader to the right conclusion though there were plenty of red herrings.
If you enjoy crime stories which are a bit different, with not too much violence, you will enjoy this one. This is an excellent start to the series and I've just (2014) read the book for the second time and enjoyed it even more.
Thanks goes to the unknown donor who left a copy of this book on the library's paperback rack at the local train station. This is the first in the Kate Shackleton mysteries featuring a genteel lady detective in the 1920's. Joshua Braithwaite, mill owner in Yorkshire, went missing seven years previously. His daughter Tabitha is about to be married and asks her friend Kate to find out what happened to him. Kate does, and in the process uncovers family secrets. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the sequels. [Fans of Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher will like Kate.]
Screamingly dull! When you can skim entire chapters two-thirds through a book and miss hardly anything plot relevant, the novel needs an overhaul. I liked this amateur sleuth, and the reveal was all right, but it took so many meandering, plodding, irrelevant pages to reach it that I had completely lost all the interest that I had at the beginning. The mystery had no real stakes, no character development occurred, and no one needed anything enough for me to stay engaged. The only reason the story kept going, and the only reason I kept reading, was to discover "whodunnit," but it wasn't worth reading hundreds of pages for that. It's possible that this author improved later in the series, but I don't think I can bear to risk reading another one of her books.
Update: Months after I wrote this review, I gave "Death of an Avid Reader" a try because I found the premise so appealing. I liked that book, have now read more from the series, and can attest that it does get better later on.
One of the the most pleasant reading-surprises I've had for a while. I thought it was just another typical cozy-mystery. Nothing wrong with cozis but in many cases the characters with all their quirks are slightly more interesting then the crime-plot itself but not here. Both characters and plot are much more complex than I'm used to from other cozys. Kate does have some quirks but stays a solid character you can empathise with and none of the other characters seems stereotyoical or exagerated. And last but not least: I didn't have a clue who it was till the very end, which is after all also not that unimportant in crime-stories :)
I quite enjoyed this first in a series by Frances Brody. It is set in England in the years immediately following World War I, in a small village where the major industry is in dyeing and weaving wool fabrics. It is quite a revelation to us in the ease of our lives to read of the incredible hardships most people endured as a matter of course in their lives. I enjoy books where I can learn something about people and places far removed from my way of life.
The first in a mystery series, Kate Shackleton is an interesting character. A widow after World War I, Kate becomes involved in searching for missing in action soldiers. This endeavor evolves into a career as a private detective. In her first case, we are introduced to Kate, Mr. Sykes her sidekick, and others. Looking forward to further installments. Available on Overdrive.
Unfortunately, my premonition is correct: Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody is too cozy for me. The cover, an illustration of rolling hills, stone bridges and scattered fluffy sheep, is very typical of the book’s setting (Yorkshire, Northern England) and is cute and eye-catching. But this isn’t my cup of tea and scones. It’s more me than the book.
In the years following the end of WWI, Kate Shackleton is trying to get on with her life—minus her husband. He’s not dead, but missing—and Kate won’t give up looking for him. The skills she’s acquired while attempting to find her husband have given her a reputation as a detective of sorts and she has helped locate other missing people. This time, an acquaintance has requested Kate’s help in finding her missing father—and to do so quickly, before her upcoming wedding. She’s also offered to pay Kate. Kate decides to take up the challenge, relocating to the mill town where Joshua Braithwaite, the CEO of the mill, went missing. It won’t be easy because the mill employees don’t like prying outsiders and Mrs. Braithwaite simply wants to forget about the scandal. But Kate persists and gets herself into trouble.
I love the setting of the book, Yorkshire. It’s a beautiful area and I like reading about it. The history of the wool mills in Northern England is also an interesting topic. However, the characters aren’t compelling and neither is the mystery of the missing mill owner. The background mystery of Kate’s missing husband (MIA according to the military and presumed dead) isn’t compelling either. The book is just too sweet and gentle and I’m finding it annoying. Plus, Tabitha (the daughter looking for her father) keeps referring to her father as “dad” and that is so jarring to me. It seems like such a modern word and in all the British books I’ve ever read or British tv shows I’ve watched of this era (pre-1950s), the word “Dad” is never used. It’s Papa or (formally) Father. Because the father was a definite authority figure in those days and Father is more of a title than a term of endearment. Papa would probably be used before “Dad.” Another thing that bugged me/had me laughing: Kate is questioning Tabitha about why she is so certain her father isn’t dead and Tabitha responds: “I just am. I know in my heart and soul. You know when someone is dead.” Kate thinks: “There was logic to that” (32). Really, there’s logic in that? Okay, Mrs. Spock. I pretty much decided to give up soon after that and flipped to the end. Amazingly, the solution to the mystery is revealed in the last 10 pages of the book. It was very tidy. So I read those few pages (of the last 10, you need only read 3 of them) and was pleased I’d saved myself the time by giving up so early.
If you like cozy mysteries, specifically British tea-and-crumpets cozy mysteries, try Dying in the Wool. And if you love it, hurrah! Because it’s a series. This novel isn’t my thing. I don’t really fault the book because it’s a pleasant read with a good plot, but it’s too tame for me.
Die Charaktere, das Setting und der Kriminalfall sind eigentlich ganz interessant, nur leider zieht es sich unglaublich. Darum fand ich besonders die erste Hälfte trage und langatmig. Spannungsszenen gab es überhaupt nicht, bis auf das Ende. Das Buch hätte gut und gerne hundert Seiten kürzer sein können.
That’s a generous three stars. The reviews are all over the place on this one, and I can see why. I was back and forth myself. I liked the main character, Kate Shackleton, but the story jumps back to previous scenes concerning other characters. With the audio, this got confusing. I am really not familiar with procedures and terminology concerning mills that make cloth, and that added to my confusion and general disinterest. So I just quit. One reviewer said that the second book was more interesting, and I may give it a try. This one was disappointing.
There were several things that I liked about this book.
• I liked the main character, especially her sarcastic (sometimes snarky) thoughts and comments. • I enjoyed the author’s writing style. The book was very “readable”. • The mystery kept me fully engaged. • I liked the setting of an English countryside.
What I didn’t like was…
The whole time I was reading it, I waffled between 3 and 4 stars. The ending ultimately decided the matter for me.
In the aftermath of the Great War, Kate Shackleton is coping with the loss of her own husband by helping those whose loved ones have disappeared during the conflict. When an acquaintance for her days in the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) asks for help in locating her missing father, a successful mill owner, Kate takes on the case. But not everyone is as eager for Kate to dig into the lives and secrets of the small Yorkshire village of Bridgestead, and she might just have bitten off more than she can chew.
An interesting cozy mystery with a likeable heroine, and the author captures the nuances of the changing social norms following WWI very well.
Kate is an appealing heroine mainly due to the fact that she epitomizes the type of woman who was no longer willing to stay home and play hostess once the war ended. She is independent, self-sufficient and determined to make a place for herself in the world.
The twists and turns in the investigation into Joshua Braithwaite's disappearance are intriguing, but the pacing is rather slow and Kate often seems to be running around in circles.
Nicola Barber's narration of the audiobook is engaging. She has an excellent range of accents and is skilled at both the male and female voices.
Overall, a solid historical mystery with well-developed characters. However, as someone who prefers a bit of romance with her suspense, the lack of a love interest for Kate is disappointing and it is unlikely that I will continue with the series.
Kate Shakleton's friend is getting married and she wants her father to walk her down the aisle - only her father has been missing for years. So she begs Kate to find him since she had luck in the past finding missing soldiers after the war. Kate does so and finds secrets that do not bode well.
I really enjoyed the setting and details of this book. The Mill town is described well and each chapter begins with a piece of information about weaving textiles that I found a nice bonus.
Kate is likeable and I look forward to more of her adventures
This a ‘cozy’ mystery set in post World War I Yorkshire. It is the first in the detective series starring an amateur sleuth- Kate Shackleton. In this case, Kate investigates the inexplicable disappearance of the father of an old friend of hers. The man in question, was a fabric mill owner. Though the characters in the story were well drawn and the details of the period depicted sounded authentic, the story failed to grip me.
Oh, how I love a grand mystery. Thanks to a trusted book source, I found a “new to me” writer of British mysteries. FRANCES BRODY (pseudonym for Frances McNeil) published this book, DYING IN THE WOOL, in 2012. This is now an author whose books I plan to read.
The story introduces Kate Shackleton, a single woman, veteran of the Great War (aka WW 1) and maybe a widow. Her husband Gerald, a surgeon and member of the Royal Medical Corps, went Missing in Action in April 1918, four years before the story starts. He left her a house and an income so Kate only dabbles in finding missing people, mostly ex-military. For no compensation.
Kate hears from a friend from her days in the war, Tabitha Braithwaite, whose father Joshua, a very rich wool mill owner, had disappeared in 1916 without a trace. Tabitha is about to get married and wants her father to be at the wedding. Tabitha tells Kate she will pay Kate a salary plus expenses to find her father. Kate takes the assignment albeit reluctantly.
Kate’s father is a police Superintendent in Yorkshire where the story takes place. He suggests that Kate take on an assistant and offers the name of Jim Sykes a former police officer he knows. Sykes is married and has three kids. They meet for the first time in Bingley before moving on to Bridgestead (does not exist in real life). In the course of the story, Kate and Jim meet several people who have a motive for getting rid of Joshua Braithwaite.
Evelyn Braithwaite is Tabitha’s mother and wife of Joshua. Her husband strayed more than once during their marriage. Evelyn, too, strayed having had a long running affair with Dr. Gregory Grainger who was the last person to see her husband alive in 1916. Grainger ran a hospital that specialized in “war fatigue” (think PTSD) patients. Joshua was taken to the hospital after he was found lying in the local pond. He was accused of trying to commit suicide, a crime at that time.
Neville Stoddard was Joshua’s close cousin who took over the mill when Joshua disappeared. He is successful in maintaining the mill’s business and has an unrequited “longing” for Evelyn. Neville’s wife had died from cancer around the time Joshua disappeared.
Arthur Wilson is the mill’s Weaving Shed Manager who had invented a device to help in weaving. He sold it to Braithwaite for a fraction of its value (as it turns out). Paul and Lucy Kellett both worked in the mill. Paul had made a killing during the War by selling black-market German dyes to other mills at greatly inflated prices. Lucy offered her services as a clairvoyant for a fee to the townspeople. Paul dies a horrible death in a mill accident, or was it? Lucy dies from a fall down the stairs a couple of days later or was it an accident? Their money was kept in strongbox under their bed. It goes missing.
The author does a terrific job of throwing out red herrings in the path of Kate and Jim. Eventually it all gets sorted out and Tabitha’s wedding can occur. This is the first story in the series. I look forward to reading more of them. Fans of British period mysteries will rejoice upon reading this story. If you like learning bits and pieces of history, you also will enjoy this book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
I enjoy Kate Shackleton, Frances Brody's 1920s detective, very much. Having served in the war, she's an appealingly practical and unsentimental hero, tootling around in her motor and cheerfully prying into the business of everyone she knows. Her ex-policeman assistant and her supportive housekeeper are also appealing characters who I'd like to get to know better.
However, the central mystery wasn't compelling enough to keep my attention. I would happily read more of Kate's observations of the people she meets and more about her life as a single woman at an unforgiving time to be one, but I didn't care whodunnit, which is a definite issue for a mystery novel.
This was a nice, cozy read. I had hopes for some Agatha Christie vibes but I had some Miss Fisher ones instead 🤭 which is fine, the tv show is to die for
So, the book is about Kate, a young widow who is asked by a friend to investigate the disappearance of her father, more specifically to find him before she gets married.
The main thing I liked about the story is that the action is set in the '20s. I love settings in that period.
Kate, the main character, is very good as a private investigator, to say so, with her perseverance, inquisitiveness and ambition in finding out the truth.
As for the plot, it had nothing exciting to offer, I could easily put down the book and not think about it until picking it up again. So I am not sure if I want to continue the series. Maybe I'll give a chance to the second book just to see if the author steps up the game.