reviewed by Gail Byrd
Lady Hardcastle and her trusty friend/sidekick/servant Flo are at it again. The delightful repartee between them is still there, and they are still the two eccentric characters that make this series such a fun one to read.
This time around, though, they are looking for a local killer rather than being involved in international intrigue. No matter, Flo still gets the chance to demonstrate some of her more unexpected skills and their work as a team is on full display.
This is one of the most entertaining series I have found, in part because of the unique nature of Lady Hardcastle and Flo’s relationship. It’s also entertaining to have two amazingly independent women in an era that is still male dominated, early 1900’s. The mystery begins and ends within this book, and there is no need to have read earlier books in the series to understand how various secondary characters relate to the two main characters. If you enjoy this book, though, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to read all the other books in the series.
For this book, it’s almost apple harvesting time, and the village is getting ready to set up for the annual festival that accompanies it. There is a running joke throughout about Flo being on the committee to organize the festival, or any other committee for that matter, with the townspeople attributing the final plan of an outdoor festival on the green per her recommendation. In fact, it was simply an off-hand comment from Flo, but when she tries to point that out to the townspeople, they simply refuse to listen.
Early on Lady H and Flo encounter a group of men known as the Weryers, an ancient organization of twelve men, either born or voted in, whose purpose is stated as being to protect the harvest and the pubs where the cider will be sold. Almost immediately upon being made aware of this groups existence, one of them is murdered. The local police, being well acquainted with Lady H and Flo, as well as knowing they work for the secret service, call in the women to help with the investigation
There is a young woman who has appeared in town, and suspicion falls on her as well as the other members of the Weryers. As Lady H and Flo drive from place to place, often with Flo’s objections to Lady H’s love of speed, more of the men are murdered and the mysterious stranger is looking more and more guilty. But what is the reason for the murders and what sinister secrets are some of the Weryers hiding. This is the first place Flo’s skill set comes into play as she and Lady H make several late night forays to homes and mills to try and discover the answers to some of their questions.
The tables get turned on our two intrepid spies/adventurers as they near the end of the investigation. Once again, Flo’s skills, with help from Lady Hardcastle, are needed to bring the investigation to a successful close. The village festival is a rousing success, too, leaving all the villagers planning to put Flo on all the committees that get formed when a new village activity is in the offing. My expectation is that, on these occasions, Flo will be running in the opposite direction as quickly as her often referenced tiny feet and legs will carry her.
If you like your mysteries with a good dose of unique humor, don’t miss this book and this series. Kinsey has found an excellent blend of mystery, spy activity, and humor which is wonderfully entertaining. His pacing is excellent and the book is well written. Whether you are looking for a beach/airplane read or something to entertain you for several hours at a stretch, this book will definitely suit the purpose.
My thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book for review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
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