Written by Frances Brody — Following on from her success with the Braithwaite case in Dying in the Wool, private investigator Kate Shackleton and her assistant Jim Sykes take on a robbery case for a pawn broker. The duo are charged with personally informing the broker’s clients that their pledges have been stolen and suitable compensation will be arranged. However, Kate becomes distracted from her task when she stumbles upon the murdered body of local business man, Laurence Milner, in a doorway after a night at the theatre with friends.
The following morning Captain Wolfendale, a Boer War veteran and associate of Milner, receives a ransom note for £1000 for the safe return of his missing granddaughter Lucy. The three separate cases make for a complex plot with many twists, turns and red herrings, which converge with surprising results.
This crime book is set in Yorkshire and written in a mix of first- and third-person, which sets a page turning pace for the novel. A Medal for Murder is spiced up with snippets of back story surrounding the Boer War, with particular focus on the British Army’s treatment of Boer women and children in concentration camps. This furnishes the novel with some interesting historical context. Dealing with issues of class, responsibility and opportunity, the book is full of skulduggery and dastardliness. But it seems that what goes around comes around, with most characters getting their just deserts whether they’re good or bad.
Brody’s heroine Kate Shakleton is a privileged woman, whose mother has a title by birth, and is comfortably provided for by her war widow’s pension. This allows her the freedom to pursue her sleuthing although she does meet with limitations as fits with the era. However Kate is a determined young woman with an internal moral code that puts her at odds with her assistant, ex-policeman Sykes. This dynamic leads the reader to question whether justice and the law can coexist. What is right and wrong is never black or white in Kate Shackleton mysteries.
This second book picks up a love interest that was hinted at in Dying in the Wool in the form of Inspector Charles of Scotland Yard. No doubt this will develop further in the next book, Murder in the Afternoon which comes out in paperback in March. I didn’t feel Kate needed to have a love interest, but perhaps the publishers did? A very enjoyable crime mystery.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars