A Quiet Life in the Countryintroduces T.E. Kinsey’s Lady Hardcastle series, set in 1908. After 12 years of traveling the world together, having some kind of secret background, Lady Emily Hardcastle and her personal lady’s maid, Florence Armstrong, a martial arts expert, have come to settle in Littleton Cotterell, a small town in Gloustershire. The pair, who have a delightfully fun relationship, bantering back and forth with inside jokes, get quickly immersed in the newest mystery, a murder staged as a hanging. They begin to investigate, using a blackboard on which Lady Hardcastle takes notes of every occurrence. When the detective rushes to arrest a man they believe to be innocent, the duo delve more deeply into the case and study society of their new town.
The high society of their town has descended upon The Grange for the engagement party of the daughter of the house, and Lady Hardcastle gets Armstrong accepted as a server for the evening to give her access to snoop. As someone who gets along well with both upper and lower classes, Armstrong is ideally suited to learn about everyone in The Grange. The next morning Inspector Sunderland arouses Lady Hardcastle from her hung over slumber with the news that someone was murdered at the party, giving the sharp pair further opportunity to show off their cleverness and detection abilities.
This book is written very well with a lot of fun word play that made me laugh from time to time. Kinsey presents us with a novel well worth reading for several reasons. The plot includes interesting details and methods used to detect the clues in the murder. I also was intrigued by all the hints and allusions to the women’s past. Rather than just telling us the back story, this book teases us about the past, giving us enjoyable things to wonder about. I look forward to seeing the past unfold further in future books. The language is also fun with puns and literary allusions that readers who can catch them will enjoy without getting in the way of the fun of those who can’t.
The audio version of this book is performed by Elizabeth Knowelden, who portrays Florence Armstrong aptly and enjoyably.
I strongly recommendA Quiet Life in the Country to those who want to enjoy strong female characters with plenty of humor. It is the relationship between lady and lady’s maid that really brings this book to life. I give it five stars.
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