|In post-World War I England, Kate Shackleton’s husband has been listed as missing, presumed dead, but Kate’s heart will not completely accept the fact that he is gone as she cannot find anyone who was with Gerald during his last moments to verify his death. As a coping mechanism and to help make sense of things, Kate, who served as a nurse during the war, has been helping people locate missing family members, something at which she is quite successful, though in one case the reunion wasn’t entirely welcomed.
Kate has been doing this work pro bono and is quite surprised when she is approached by a fellow Voluntary Aid Detachment member, Tabitha Braithwaite, offering to pay Kate to locate Tabitha’s father so he can walk Tabitha down the aisle in six short weeks. Joshua Braithwaite, owner of the Bridgestead Woolen Mill in northern England, was thought to have attempted suicide shortly before his disappearance just after his son was killed on the Somme.
Tabitha still feels her father is alive, a feeling Kate can understand, so she begins to follow Joshua’s footsteps just prior to his disappearance. She finds that she may be uncovering things about Tabitha’s father, and perhaps her fiancé Hector, that she may be sorry to learn. But when an explosion kills innocent people, Kate realizes there is more at stake than a young woman’s desire to have her father give her away at her wedding and doubles her efforts to find a killer, wherever the path leads her.
Kate is a fiercely independent young woman whose housekeeper Mrs. Sugden’s daily clean-up of horse manure provides a light-hearted touch, and a winning photograph for Kate. Kate’s father is a former constable and wants to protect his daughter, wishing she’d get involved in something a little less dangerous. But he accepts her independence and provides her with Sykes, a former policeman who will become an unwitting side-kick to Kate.
Kate is sincere and earnest in her desire to help others, though there is wistfulness about her as she still holds hope that her beloved Gerald is alive. The woolen mills of turn-of-the-century England and the industry surrounding them are well described, with the details bringing them to life. The mystery is intricately plotted, and just when readers think they have an idea of what might be going on, it takes a quick turn and provides more surprises and clues before Brody fits everything together at the end in a most satisfactory way. This is a lovely start to a series that will have historical fiction fans well-pleased and looking forward to more from a new, very appealing heroine.
--Jennifer Monahan Winberry