And now I have reached half cannonball! Yay me. I mean I know it’s not a full, but I’ve set the bar at half for a few years now and I’ve yet to make it there (whether I read the books or just failed to review them). My twenty-sixth book this year is T.E. Kinsey’s A Quiet Life in the Country, a charming tale about an eccentric aristocrat-turned-sleuth in early twentieth century England, Lady Hardcastle, her servant-turned-bff-slash-detective friend Flo, and a dead body in the field near their new country cottage. Lady Hardcastle and Armstrong (Flo) can’t resist digging into the mystery when at first it seems the local detectives have missed the mark.
As it turns out their new neighborhood is a hotbed of pretty serious crimes – smuggling, murder, and theft. All the neighbors have secrets and we get a little upstairs/downstairs reveal from each family. The novel takes place in 1908, I believe, so this is all pre-WWI England. There are cars and the hint of social progress, but not to the depth we see in literature and entertainment post-war. We meet a lot of characters, some of them are your run-of-the-mill stuffy butler or your recently-titled new money types. As this novel is the first in a series, it will be interesting to see which ones show up repeatedly and whether they grow in interest or importance. I like Lady Hardcastle and her maid Miss Armstrong. Theirs is a unique relationship for the time period, and much-commented on. There is an often-alluded to back story that I think would make an interesting prequel-novella. Hardcastle’s husband was murdered some years prior to this novel and the two women ran for their lives from India (or China? Or both?). Lady Hardcastle is actually only about 40, from what I could guess, and Armstrong somewhere close but younger. It’s interesting to read such a Christie-like story, but with a much younger set of heroines.
The major drawback to this book, as I would see it, is the initial murder really doesn’t seem that interesting to anyone and takes a back seat to a secondary murder. Are they connected? They are not treated as such for the most part, but the resolution of that case seems a bit hacked on to the end. Overall this novel was pretty enjoyable, and for lovers of British mysteries set amongst the aristocracy a la Agatha Christie, a new and different set of characters to enjoy. I will definitely look into the rest of the series. I am pretty sure I purchased the second one during a Kindle Deal of the Day sale recently; even if it’s more of the same it’s definitely worth throwing in the rotation.