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if you’re up for some ’20s murder mysteries…
What is the Kate Shackleton series about?
Written by Frances Brody, also known as Frances McNeil, this mystery series is taking place in England during the 1920s.
More precisely, the series resolves around Kate Shackleton, a thirty years old very perceptive and witty amateur sleuth extraordinaire from Yorkshire. When she stumbles on a murder, she has to investigate and she’s really good at it and even became renowned for it.
How to read the Kate Shackleton Books in Order?
Every book in the Kate Shackleton series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Kate Shackleton’s First Case (short story) – Yorkshire, 1921. Kate Shackleton, thirty years old, is taking tea with her friend, Doris who is on a visit from London. In the genteel environs of Harrogate’s premier tea room, violence is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. But when Doris is set upon by a mystery assailant, it’s up to Kate to find out why – and in doing so, she soon develops a taste for detective-work.
- Dying in the Wool – Bridgestead is a peaceful spot. Pretty and remote, nothing exceptional happens… Until the day that Master of the Mill Joshua Braithwaite goes missing in dramatic circumstances, never to be heard of again. Now Joshua’s daughter is getting married and wants one last attempt at finding her father. Kate Shackleton has always loved solving puzzles. So who better to get to the bottom of Joshua’s mysterious disappearance?
- A Medal for Murder – A night at the theatre should have been just what the doctor ordered, until Kate stumbles across a body in the doorway. The knife sticking out of its chest definitely suggests a killer in the theatre’s midst. Kate likes nothing better than a mystery. So when a ransom note demands £1,000 for the safe return of the play’s leading lady, the refined streets of Harrogate play host to Kate’s skills in piecing together clues…
- Murder In The Afternoon – Young Harriet and her brother Austin have always been scared of the quarry where their stone mason father works. So when they find him dead on the cold ground, they rush off quickly to look for some help. When help arrives, however, the quarry is deserted and there is no sign of the body. It seems like another unusual case requiring the expertise of Kate Shackleton–and Mary Jane, the children’s mother, is adamant that only she can help.
- A Woman Unknown – Deirdre Fitzpatrick is married to a man who wants to know where she really goes when supposedly taking care of her sick mother and calls on the expertise of Kate Shackleton, amateur sleuth extraordinaire to investigate. Everett Runcie is a banker facing ruin and disgrace. His American heiress wife will no longer pay for his mistakes, or tolerate his infidelity, and is seeking a divorce. When a chambermaid enters Runcie’s hotel room, she is shocked to find that he is dead!
- Murder on a Summer’s Day – When the India Office seeks help in finding Maharajah Narayan, they call upon the expertise of renowned amateur detective Kate Shackleton to investigate. But soon a missing persons case turns into murder. Shot through the heart, Narayan’s body has obviously not been in the woods overnight. Who brought it here, and from where? And what happened to the hugely valuable diamond that was in the Maharajah’s possession?
- Death of an Avid Reader – Lady Coulton gave up the baby that would have ruined her marriage, born when Lord Coulton was abroad. Now that her husband is dying, she asks Kate Shackleton to find Sophia. It is forty years since the ghost of a dead librarian haunted the old library, yet the stories have begun again. Kate does not believe in ghosts but obligingly takes part in a ceremony to expel the restless spirit. Shockingly, there is a body in the basement, strangled, and covered in dusty volumes from a fallen bookcase. It is Dr. Potter, a mathematician.
- A Death in the Dales – When the landlord of a Yorkshire tavern is killed in plain sight, Freda Simonson, the only witness to the crime, becomes plagued with guilt, believing the wrong man has been convicted. Following her death, it seems that the truth will never be uncovered… But it just so happens that Freda’s nephew is courting the renowned amateur sleuth Kate Shackleton, who decides to holiday in Langcliffe with her teenage niece, Harriet. When Harriet strikes up a friendship with a local girl whose young brother is missing, the search leads Kate to uncover another suspicious death, not to mention an illicit affair.
- Death at the Seaside – Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there. Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma’s daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard.
- Death in the Stars – Yorkshire, 1927. Eclipse fever grips the nation, and when beloved theatre star Selina Fellini approaches trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton to accompany her to a viewing party at Giggleswick School Chapel, Kate suspects an ulterior motive. During the eclipse, Selina’s friend and co-star Billy Moffatt disappears and is later found dead in the chapel grounds. Kate can’t help but dig deeper and soon learns that two other members of the theatre troupe died in similarly mysterious circumstances in the past year.
- A Snapshot of Murder – Yorkshire, 1928. Indomitable sleuth Kate Shackleton is taking a well-deserved break and indulging in her other passion: photography. When her local Photographic Society proposes an outing, Kate jumps at the chance to visit Haworth and Stanbury, in the heart of Brontë country, the setting for Wuthering Heights. But when an obnoxious member of their party is murdered, the group is thrown into disarray.
- The Body on the Train – London, 1929. In the darkness before dawn, a railway porter, unloading a special train from Yorkshire, discovers a man’s body, shot and placed in a sack. There are no means of identification to be found and as Scotland Yard hits a dead end, they call on the inimitable Kate Shackleton, a local sleuth, confident in her local knowledge and investigative skills will produce results. But it’s no easy task.
- Murder is in the Air – North Yorkshire, 1930. It’s the season for warm and spirited countryside celebrations. Ever since the war, pubs have been in the doldrums, and in an attempt to promote and breathe new life back into the business, brewers select a charismatic employee as local queen–to be the face of their industry. And this year’s queen, wages clerk Ruth Parnaby, has invited the ever intrepid Kate Shackleton and her niece Harriet to accompany her on public engagements at a garden party thrown in her honor. But when Ruth leads children to the stables for pony rides, the drayman is missing, later found in the last place imaginable–the fermentation room, deceased.
- A Mansion for Murder – 1930, Yorkshire. Intrigued by a mysterious letter from a stranger offering important information, Private Investigator Kate Shackleton arrives in the mill village of Saltaire. At nearby Milner Field mansion, overshadowed by its reputation for misfortune and untimely deaths, she expects to meet the letter writer, Ronnie Creswell.
If you like the Kate Shackleton series, you may also want to see our Molly Murphy reading order, or our guide to The Maisie Dobbs series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.This article was last updated on May 28, 2023.