Thursday, October 20, 2016

Quiet Life in the Country

A Quiet Life In The Country (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery Book 1) by [Kinsey, T E]

A Quiet Life in the Country- T E Kinsey
Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: October 4, 2016

Rating (Out of 5):

Synopsis: Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they’ve just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life.

But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There’s a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation…
As Lady Hardcastle and Flo delve deeper into rural rivalries and resentment, they uncover a web of intrigue that extends far beyond the village. With almost no one free from suspicion, they can be certain of only one fact: there is no such thing as a quiet life in the country.

The first of a promising new series, A Quiet Life in the Country introduces readers to the mysterious Lady Hardcastle and her maid/friend Florence Armstrong.  An unconventional widow, Lady Hardcastle has traveled the world both with her husband and, after his death, with her maid- who through shared life and death experiences becomes her close friend and confidante.  Through some of her conversations and Flo's memories we learn tantalizing bits of of their past exploits.  I'm torn on whether I hope to get more details about those exploits in future books or if its more fun to imagine the circumstances that get blithely referred to.  I think I lean towards hoping Kinsey continues to give us entertaining hints without the details so we can fill in the gaps ourselves, which not only allows us to imagine all sorts of things but also keeps the narrative flowing smoothly instead of getting bogged down in establishing long past histories of characters. 

A Quiet Life is told from Flo's point of view, giving us not only some delightful below stairs scenes but also Flo's entertaining and occasionally irreverent train of thought as events unfold.  She and Lady Hardcastle have retired to the country for a quiet life and on their first walk through the woods they discover a dead body.  The quiet life quickly goes out the window as Lady Hardcastle decides the police aren't on the right track and she wants to step in and 'help'.  Unlike many amateur detectives, Lady Hardcastle and Flo gain the appreciation and support of the inspector on the case. Inspector Sunderland turns out to be not just an 'official' figure but an intelligent man who learns to overlook not only the fact that Flo and Lady Hardcastle are civilians, but women as well.  A budding friendship between these three people from very different backgrounds and social positions will be interesting to watch develop in future books.

 Jewel theives, dodgy musicians, suspicious cricket players, obnoxious social climbers, and another dead body convince us all that there is no such thing as a quiet life in the country.   

A Quiet Life in the Country is a delightfully entertaining, wittily written, fast paced mystery full of delightful characters and charming English country life.  Mystery fans will enjoy this new voice on the English murder mystery scene. 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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