Title: Rotten to the Core (Lady Hardcastle Mysteries #8)
Author: T.E. Kinsey
Published on: 7 June 2022
Genre: Historical Cozy Mystery
Rotten to the Core is the eighth book in T.E. Kinsey’s Lady Hardcastle Mystery series.
Summer 1911. A scorching heatwave engulfs the quiet town of Littleton Cotterell and brings about an unusually early harvest. The villagers are thrilled, but events quickly turn sour when one of them turns up dead in an apple orchard, stabbed through the heart.
Inspector Sunderland of the Bristol Police asks for Lady Hardcastle and her maid Florence Armstrong’s help. The ladies had recently met a mysterious stranger in the village. Did she have something to do with the murders? One does doubt her involvement, as she refuses to speak to anyone and keeps to herself most of the time…
When a second cider-related murder takes place, it becomes very clear there’s more to these murders than meets the eye. What’s more interesting is, the two victims were members of The Weryers of the Pomary – otherwise known as Cider Wardens.
Another fantastic addition to my favorite historical mystery series. I have been following this series from the start and this is THE BEST historical mystery series ever! (Note that I didn’t say “one of the best”!)
The highlight of this series, apart from excellent sleuthing and mind-blowing mysteries, is the silly banter between Flo and Lady Hardcastle. Initially, the servants of the house, and those of other manors, could not understand why Flo gets special treatment – shouldn’t she behave like any other lady’s maid? Soon, it becomes clear to everyone that the two ladies are more than just an employee-employer, they are best friends. In the past, Flo has saved Emily Hardcastle’s life countless times, and both worked for HM’s government.
Rotten to the Core begins with the villagers of Littleton Cotterrel preparing for the upcoming harvest festival. Emily Hardcastle and Flo visit The Dog and the Duck, a local pub, where they see that most of the customers are outside. There’s an important meeting going on in the pub and nobody’s allowed in. But Lady Hardcastle is known to break the rules (ahem!) so she goes in along with Flo. They learn the Weryers are in a meeting.
After a while, they are asked to move out. The next day, the man who had asked them to move out of the pub is found dead in his apple orchard. He was murdered. Flo learns in passing that there was a murder twenty years ago – something to do with one of the Weryers. But none of the current members are ready to discuss it.
Lady Hardcastle and Flo are helping Inspector Sunderland in the case when another Weryer is found dead. The murders seem to be done in a ritualistic manner. Before the first murder, Flo and Lady Hardcastle had directed a mysterious stranger to the rooms above the Dog and the Duck. The stranger refuses to speak to anyone and acts in a secretive manner. As the story proceeds, the stranger’s involvement in the current murders becomes obvious. But who is she? And how is she involved with the Weryers?
The mystery behind the ritualistic murders kept me guessing till the end. The story is peppered with silly banter between Flo and Lady Hardcastle. Speaking of banter, I cannot not talk about Lady Hardcastle’s take on the amusing variations of names. The Weryers of the Pomary become “Worriers of the Pomeranian” and Whisperers of he Pomegranate.”
Oh, Pish and Fiddlesticks! She knows they are called Weryers of the Pomary, all right. But she likes to tease Flo. Hence the variations…
Speaking of Flo, it’s not until the second half of the story (and almost at the end) that Flo says “What ho!” This was supposed to be one of the signature sayings of this story (the other being “Pish and Fiddlesticks”.) Even Flo agrees that “What ho” doesn’t sound very exciting… Hmm!
The second half of the story is where the pacing picks up – we have another murder, some development in the murder mystery, and some possible connection to a secret stretching back to two decades. A secret someone would do anything – even murder, if necessary – to keep it hidden.
Absolutely fantastic, engrossing and highly entertaining read. If you are new to the series, I highly recommend you start from the beginning. You can read this book as a standalone but you don’t want to miss out on all the fun and action of Flo and Lady Hardcastle’s previous sleuthing adventures, do you?
The best! Wow 🤩 I’m not too big on historical myself, but so happy you love it 🥰
Btw ~ I had another comment on that post, so idk why you couldn’t 🤷♀️
This series is on audible too and many say audio version is better than written one.
Yes, I saw the comment while posting. I tried twice; both times it showed an error.
Have you set a time limit for comments? This is one of the possibilities why I couldn’t comment.
I didn’t even know you could do that, so can’t be that. Thanks for letting me know there’s an issue.