Lady Hardcastle and her maid, Flo Armstrong, move from London to a little village of Littleton Cotterell. They go out for a morning walk one day and find a body hanging from the tree. The dead man is Frank Pickering, one of the village’s cricket players.
Sir Hector and Lady Farley-Stroud’s daughter is engaged to a Seddon. The Seddons own a shipping company and the marriage is supposed to be a union of two biggies of the village.
Frank Pickering’s death is ruled as murder and Inspector Sunderland arrests the man responsible for the murder. But Flo and Lady Hardcastle aren’t convinced that the accused is guilty of murder.
“But shall we be endlessly beset by visitors? You don’t know anyone. I thought your plan was for a quiet life in the country.”
“Oh, it is, but we’re certain to have visitors. At least, I hope so. I want a quiet life, not a cloistered one.”
A Quiet Life in the Country is the first book in the Lady Hardcastle series. Set in a sleepy village, the Lady and her maid are in for adventures of a lifetime. The duo aren’t new to adventures. With almost running for their life in Shanghai to spending some time in Kolkata, the ladies have brushed their hands with crime numerous times. So when they move to a new village and are in face-to-face with finding a dead body, their detective instincts kick in.
I read the novella in this series – Christmas at the Grange – and that is how I discovered this wonderful series. With the perfect combination of deductive skills (Emily calls it abductive skills; she’s even written to the publisher asking to change the famous detective’s skills from deduction to abduction), humour and adventures, A Quiet Life in the Country is a charming and entertaining read.
“They even managed to put the books on the shelves.” She looked closer. “I’m not sure I’d put Charles Dickens next to Isaac Newton except at a dinner party, and then only if Nelson Melba hadn’t turned up, but they’ve done their best.”
The main thing to look out in this book is the relationship between Flo and Lady Hardcastle. Unlike the usual lady-maid relationship, these two share a warm bond. They are friendly, tease each other and when in need, look after each other. Others are shocked at Lady Hardcastle’s treatment of her maid. Flo sits at the dinner table with Lady Hardcastle – which according to few, is absolutely unheard of. Also, when it comes to keeping secrets (in this case, Lady Farley-Stroud reveals one to Emily) , Lady Hardcastle insists that Flo should accompany her, no matter what.
The story starts with a murder but as the reader proceeds further, they are in for more surprises. The characters are well portrayed. Apart from the two main characters, I liked Inspector Sunderland. From Whatshisname to Whiffwhaff to Thingummy, Lady Hardcastle has a hard time remembering his name as the story begins. The duo initially do not trust his detective skills but they form a bond with him as the story proceeds. This isn’t the case in usual mysteries, isn’t it? The inspector always remains a pain in the backside, not believing the amateur sleuth until it’s too late…
Since it’s the first book in the series, the introductions to the duo’s adventures and how Lady Hardcastle’s husband died are mentioned. Their adventures at the Bulgarian Embassy is mentioned in passing and I wish there was more details about this – it did seem like they had one heck of an adventure. If I remember it right, I also read about this in the novella so I am guessing the details of it are in the other books in this series. Also, Flo might be a lady’s maid but her love for reading novels are well portrayed in the story.
The identity of the killer was totally unexpected. Given that there are more than one crimes in this story, I was thinking that the story would hang either with a cliffhanger or the duo will give up on solving the other mystery. Mind you, the story was almost at the end and out of nowhere Lady Hardcastle has a light-bulb moment. The ending is totally worth it. There’s a bit of action and drama. Also, a shocker in the end which made me doubt if… – sorry can’t say more about it and make this review a spoiler.
Do I recommend this book? Yes, I do. Lady Hardcastle series is different from the usual Historical mysteries. Also, the element of humour is one of the main attractions of this series.
A Quiet Life in the Country by TE Kinsey is an entertaining, charming and delightful read.
My blogger buddy Anjana loves this series. Have a look at what she thinks about this book here.
Character Development: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Title: A Quiet Life in the Country (Lady Hardcastle Mysteries #1)
Author: T E Kinsey
Publication Date: 4th October 2014
Genre: Historical Mystery/Fiction
Featured Image Credits: Goodreads.com