Death At The Seaside – Frances Brody

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. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma’s current gentleman friend.

Kate can’t help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller’s shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby’s idyllic façade, it’s up to Kate – ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden – to discover the truth behind Felicity’s disappearance.

And they say nothing happens in August . . .

I’m a big fan of cosy mysteries, so it’s quite surprising to note that this was the first Frances Brody novel I have read, despite the fact that this is the eighth book in her series featuring Kate Shackleton. With that in mind it was no hinderance to my enjoyment of the novel. As far as I could tell there are no spoilers in here for previous books, and I felt no need to have read any of them before this one, although there are plenty of references to past events that have given me a keen interest in catching up with some of the earlier books.

It’s a great read that’s ideal for snuggling up in a cosy armchair on a wet miserable afternoon and transporting yourself to the beautiful seaside resort. I loved the genuine sense of time and place I felt when reading Death at the Seaside, falling completely for the 1920’s atmosphere, of this truly British seaside mystery.

There are delightful characters, and a an intriguing plot line to ensure you keep turning the pages, which you will clearly want to keep doing.  If you love some good old fashioned escapism, this is definitely the book for you.

Kate Moretti – The Boom of Women Writing Crime Fiction

vanishing-year-fina_finalZoe Whittaker appears to have a charmed life. Newly married to a rich and attentive man, she has the best of everything. But five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Because back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. When an attempt is made on her life, Zoe fears that her past has caught up with her. But who can she ask for help when even her own husband doesn’t know her real name? Zoe must decide who she can trust before she, whoever she is, vanishes completely…

Today, as part of her blog tour to support the release of The Vanishing Year, Kate Moretti talks to about the boom of women writing crime fiction.


The Boom of Women Writing Crime Fiction

“Are you ever afraid what will happen when the trend dies?” Someone asked me the other day. This person was a writer, a friend. She meant it in a kind way. I write “domestic suspense”, which I suppose has seen a boom since Gone Girl, although many of us female suspense writers have abounding theories as to why now?

My latest novel, The Vanishing Year released on September 27. It is, at it’s heart, a woman in peril story. My hope is that she starts out wobbly and finishes strong. I hope she saves herself. That was my intent, but of course, the book belongs to the reader now, and no two readers think alike.

I never set out to write to a trend, of course. No one really does that, at least not anyone successful. I fell in love with these female written, female led suspense novels. Where yes, a crime occurred, right in our own little backyard barbeque. These novels cut right to the center of life – husbands and children, friendships and families – these are the stories that are happening, right now to all of us. And then, suddenly, we’re in life-threatening danger.

There’s something so enticing about that idea. Our own streets are dangerous, our neighbors aren’t who we think they are, our friendships – seemingly so sure—are as wobbly as a dinghy, and on as solid ground.

“What makes you think it’s a trend?” I can’t help but ask this. Raymond Chandler, possibly the godfather of the hardboiled detective, certainly never spawned a trend when authors like Michael Connelly, Lee Childs, James Lee Burke and Dennis Lehane followed in his wake. It just existed as a new take on genre and has persisted the past seventy-five years. And yet, women are asked (repeatedly, I’ll add), why the trend?

I resist the idea that women writing suspense will be a fading fad. Men have clearly been doing it, well and successfully, for decades. Women bring a certain emotional connection to mystery and suspense novels that may be lacking, or at least not the focus, in a plot driven noir.

There’s room for both of us, men and women. Don’t get me wrong, I love the hardboiled detective. It’s possibly my second favorite kind of story to read.

I’ve recently become obsessed with Tana French. Obsessed. Her novels are written from female and male points of view, but her take on the male detective is fascinating to me. Compared to Connelly’s Bosch or Child’s Reacher, she gets so deep into the protagonists head, her novels are so dense, so thick I feel like I’ve lived with these people. I’ve never had book hangovers like this. Her world building is exceptional.

I refuse to succumb to the thinking that these all-encompassing suspenseful stories are a passing fad. Publishers and media sometimes refer to these books as “The Girl” books, which is almost derisive. It attempts to box up and label what is slowly becoming a global addiction: female led crime fiction.

I, for one, hope to see more of these stories: where it’s not just men who expose the cruelty and evil of society. Where men have always carried guns and driven fast cars, women are now putting a finer point on our capacity for violence. The crime fiction now is more nuanced and more clever, the bad guys are more subtle, and the heroes are more flawed. The cracks are exposed and the stories that live there are unique and extraordinary.