August is the month when everyone decides to take a holiday – after all nothing ever happens except for a constant state of sweat and damp armpits (I am not speaking from personal experience AT ALL). In Death at the Seaside, PI Kate Shakleton feels the same and she decides to take a well-earned break and visit her childhood friend Alma in Whitby. Whitby has bittersweet memories for Kate and when she passes the jewellers where her long-ago fiancé bought her ring from, she doesn’t think anything will come of the visit other than seeing Mr Philips, the proprietor and the man who served her all those years ago. Instead she finds him murdered on the floor.
Of course reliving long-ago memories isn’t the only reason Kate decided to visit Mr Philips. He is Alma’s current gentlemen friend and advanced Felicity (Alma’s daughter and Kate’s god-daughter) 30 shillings just before she ran away – Kate knows she has to investigate. Yet in a small town like Whitby no one wants to tell Kate exactly what is happening but if she wants to discover the truth and find Felicity tight-lipped silence from won’t stop her. She enlists the help of Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden – both recurring characters from the series – and begins to uncover all kinds of secrets…
I love murder mysteries like this where the plot is full of twists, the characters are three-dimensional, and the end reveal satisfying (I also didn’t guess it until it was very obvious!). Death at the Seaside is also full of brilliant details, all of which made the setting of Whitby and the characters far more real in my imagination. I especially loved all the thought that went into creating Alma. Not only is she the worried mother keeping secrets but also a fortune teller and as I read this book I learnt a lot about fortune telling!
Death at the Seaside switched from Kate’s first person narration to third person narration from other characters. Some of the time this third person narration starred Felicity and even though I liked her by the end of the novel I thought her justification for doing what she did wasn’t particularly strong. However she was a teenager with a fortune teller mother who told her nothing – if I was in her situation I may just decide to do the same thing. Maybe. Kate however, is a wonderful character and even though Death at the Seaside is part of a series it doesn’t have to be read as such. I have read a few of the previous books but Brody makes sure that you know all there is to know about Kate, Jim Sykes, and Mrs Sugden to thoroughly enjoy their adventure.
I really recommend Death at the Seaside and not just if you like tightly plotter murder mysteries. The writing is engaging and clever, and the characters become friends by the time the book is finished.
Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody is published by Piatkus on the 6th of October but is available for pre-order from all good and evil book retailers. I received this book free from the publisher and the free book-based swag hasn’t influenced my opinion or the content of this review.
I also loved taking this book around London with me as the pictures show!