I left behind Dahlia Moss and her amateur detecting from last week's post...she was entertaining, but I couldn't quite get with the computer gaming part of the tale.
So, I moved on to a British mystery that features an amateur sleuth who couldn't be more different. Meet 31-year-old Kate Shackleton. She is a widow, promising photographer, daughter of a police superintendent (which helps), and was a voluntary field nurse during World War I. She also has a penchant for finding people who have gone missing.
Her first professional case comes to her when friend and former nurse colleague Tabitha asks her to find her missing father. Joshua Braithwaite was the successful owner of one of the many textile mills near Leeds. One day he simply walked away from his family, his village, and his business. Tabitha, who is to be married shortly, believes he is still alive and hires Kate to find him before the wedding.
The setting is the 1920s and I love reading about that time. The clever chapter headings all reference textile or mill terms — for example, crepe-de-chine, twisting-in, candlewick. There are intriguing historical details and descriptions of the mill and the difficult and dangerous life of its workers. (Think Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South.)
My only complaint is that there are too many instances when I am aware that the author is 'writing'. By that I mean there are character background details or descriptions that don't actually move the story forward. They seem forced. I guess I don't have patience for too many side trips. I want to get on with it.
This is the first in a series — there are nine mysteries so far. If you are a fan of Maisie Dobbs, these books will be sure to please.
Here is a quote I quite like regarding Kate's interest in photography. It could apply to any artistic endeavor.
Even when my photographs did not do justice to the scene, which was most of the time, simply framing the views developed a photographing habit that changed my way of seeing. A photographer's eye sharpens memory from a vague or hazy recollection to a clear image of an everlasting moment. Owning a camera gave me a new interest in people and landscapes, in markets and busy streets. It is a way of looking outside yourself and at the same time gathering up mental albums of memories.