cover image Murder Is in the Air: A Kate Shackleton Mystery

Murder Is in the Air: A Kate Shackleton Mystery

Frances Brody. Crooked Lane, $26.99 (334p) ISBN 978-1-64385-466-3

Set in 1930, Brody’s plodding 12th Kate Shackleton mystery (after 2019’s The Body on the Train) takes private investigator Kate and her assistant, Jim Sykes, to the Yorkshire market town of Masham, where William Lofthouse, the owner of Barleycorn Brewery, needs her help. “You’ve a right good reputation for discretion, for tackling all sorts of tricky business,” he tells her, and explains that there’s “a bit of a muddle in the accounts.” The capable Miss Crawford, William’s secretary, gives Sykes the relevant documents to examine. When Miss Crawford is knocked off her bike by an automobile and killed instantly, Sykes is sure it was murder. Not much happens until a second death. Meanwhile, Ruth Parnaby, the company’s wage clerk, is preparing to compete for the title of Brewery Queen of all Yorkshire. Ruth’s travails and triumphs tend to overshadow the investigative work. Smooth prose and nice local color offset in part a less than scintillating plot. Series fans will best appreciate this installment. Agent: Rebecca Winfield, David Luxton Assoc. (Oct.)