First Line: "Good heavens!" said Lady Hardcastle as we stepped down from the dog cart.
Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a Cambridge education and a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante of fourteen years, had an unconventional childhood and is an expert in the martial arts. The two women have moved to a house outside a small village in Gloucestershire in order to live a quiet life in the country. It doesn't last very long.
While on a walk, the two discover a dead body in the woods, and when the police head off on the wrong track, Lady Emily starts making her own enquiries. She seems to have an amazing amount of knowledge of crime investigation, and Flo can be extremely helpful once she sets her mind to it....
I'm not quite sure what I expected when I plunked down my money and downloaded A Quiet Life in the Country. A modern variation of the Golden Age country house mystery? If that was it, I didn't get it. What I did wind up getting was a whole lot more. I will warn you ahead of time: if you are a fan of those classic mysteries, T.E. Kinsey's book may not be your cup of tea, and now I'll set about telling you why.
Kinsey has written a good, puzzling, multi-layered mystery that gives you a real feel for village life out in the English countryside at the turn of the last century. While the plot and the setting are first-rate, it's Kinsey's characters that make this book shine-- and what makes the book turn away from those classic mysteries.
Inspector Sunderland moves from being a stereotype to being someone rather special, which I always love to see (being sick to death of incompetent policemen in the books I read).
Lady Emily Hardcastle's background is very mysterious indeed, and I hope it takes several books to have all the details teased out for us to see. However, it is the relationship between Lady Emily and Florence that is the pièce de résistance of A Quiet Life in the Country. Their dialogue is so full of mutual admiration, wit, and humor that it is, quite simply, a delight to read. As Sunderland witnesses one such conversation, he asks, "Are you two a music hall act?" and you have to admit that he has a point. (If they were a music hall act, I'd pay to see them.)
If you're in the mood for something that's light and fun, something that teases your brain, takes you to the English countryside of a century ago, and makes you laugh, have I got a recommendation for you: T.E. Kinsey's A Quiet Life in the Country. I'm on to the second book!
A Quiet Life in the Country by T.E. Kinsey
Thomas & Mercer © 2016
eBook, 258 pages
Historical Mystery, #1 Lady Hardcastle mystery
Source: Purchased from Amazon.