Well, this month’s selection, A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody, brought me a little closer to that cherished goal. Our leading lady detective is Kate Shackleton, a WWI widow who holds out hope that her husband Gerald may yet be among the living.
While Kate does keep an eye out for any possible leads there, she also handles missing person cases for other people and thanks to a recommendation from her associate Mr. Sykes, winds up with two assignments that overlap each other.
The first is from a Mr. Fitzpatrick, an older man who is worried about his young wife Deirdre going off alone to parts unknown. Since Mrs. Fitzpatrick is in the habit of shoplifting(as Sykes found out during a previous encounter),the chances of her being involved in illegal activity are rather high.
As it turns out, Deirdre is doing something sketchy in order to pay for her sick mother’s health care. With the help of a lawyer, she plays the part of “woman unknown “ in divorce cases, so that the man in question can give his current wife grounds for adultery without exposing his actual mistress in public.
These weekends at a hotel are merely meant to be widow dressing, nothing more but occasionally a client tries to be more intimate such as a prominent actor performing in a Gilbert and Sullivan theater tour:
However, Deirdre finds herself in a world of trouble when the next man she’s paired with is Everett Runcie, a sponging socialite whose wealthy wife Philippa is eager to part from him.
To protect his long standing other woman Caroline Windham(who is also married), Everett and Deirdre spend the night together but the next morning, only one of them is alive.
Kate happens to be an acquaintance of Philippa, who asks her to find the killer. She’s also in search of the now officially missing Deirdre as well as the police are to find out what she knows. Deirdre isn’t seen as a suspect but her vanishing act might be a permanent one if she saw too much for the murderer’s liking.
Reading one of Brody’s books is like tuning into a favorite BBC mystery TV show, with many enriching background details about the characters generously ladled out and well developed scenes that bring the overall story to vivid life.
A Woman Unknown does have a noir flavor to it’s central plot but the main elements here are of women seeking a way out of traps that life has set for them on their own terms, offering food for thought along with some tasty thrills along the way:
Speaking of great series to catch up with, my next Series-ous Reading pick is Susan Elia MacNeal’s His Majesty’s Hope, part of her Maggie Hope historical mystery series.
In this entry, Maggie is going undercover in WWII Germany to stop one of the enemy’s worst agents who happens to be her thought to be dead mother.
This is the third book in this rapidly growing series and why they haven’t been picked up for adaptation yet is a real mystery to me. You have an amazing heroine on deck here, people-hop to it!: