This was a fun, cozy little mystery set in England in 1908. It follows Florence “Flo” Armstrong, our narrator, who is a servant of the Lady Emily Hardcastle, but she and her employer have a singular relationship. They are more like friends than employer and employee, due to events that happened in their mysterious past, a past which is given to us in trickles and drabbles over the course of the book, and which I assume we will get more clarification as the series goes on. Lady Hardcastle is a widow, and she and Flo have moved to the country to “retire” and lead “a quiet life”. Indeed, Lady Hardcastle has promised Flo their adventures were behind them. But of course, no sooner have they moved in than they find a dead body in the woods, and then they’re involved because neither of them can help themselves.
The dynamic between Flo and Lady Hardcastle is the best part of the book, by far, but both characters have a way about them that ingratiates them into the good will of those around them, particularly their neighbors, and the police inspector assigned to work the murder case. The atmosphere of the book was very fun and light, and full of banter. And not only that, but the banter was full of affection between the two leads. The mystery itself was not as fun as it could be, which is why I wanted to dock it one and a half stars. This wouldn’t have been a five star book no matter if the mystery would have been riveting. It just feels too slight for that, and I don’t love the characters yet, though I do like them very much.
I will definitely be continuing the series, and on audio, as the narrator’s voice was lovely, and she gives the characters just the right amount of mischievous attitude. Normally I’m more drawn to either old-fashioned mysteries like Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie, or darker contemporary mysteries, so this was a nice change!
[3.5 stars, rounded up]
Read Harder Challenge 2019: A cozy mystery.