I know i just finished a post a couple of days ago, but I wanted to put this out there for those of you who are looking for a book to read, or perhaps for a new series to consider. In this season of hustle and bustle, having something that is both entertaining and well written might be just what you are looking for after a long day or days of planning and getting ready for the coming holidays.
Enter Lady Emily Hardcastle and her trusty companion, Flo in the Lady Hardcastle series by T. E. Kinsey. They are former spies who are now trying to live a quiet life in the country, having retired from intrigue and daring dos. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a series if they were successful, and since I’m reviewing Death Beside the Seaside, the sixth in the series here, you can figure out how successful they have been.
I’ve read several of the previous books in the series, although I missed the publication of a couple. That did nothing to prevent my enjoyment of this one, nor did I feel like I was missing anything pertinent having skipped a couple. If you plan to read the whole series, by all means, start with the first one and read them in order if you can find them. However, each book stands alone quite well, so don’t let that stop you if you can’t find one or so of them. If you want to start with this one, feel free. There is nothing in this book that relies on information from anything earlier for understanding or enjoyment. For more information, here’s my review.
This is the sixth book in the Lady Hardcastle series featuring Lady Emily Hardcastle and her maid/associate, Flo. The book is a lighthearted look at the world of spycraft and adventure with two unlikely heroines; Lady Hardcastle who is a 40 something year old aristocrat and Flo, her right hand woman, a tiny woman, raised in a circus, who is adept at all manner of martial arts. They often allude to their past daring dos, when they were both working for Her Majesty’s government as spies although now they are attempting to retire and live quiet lives in the country.
The book, and series, is written with great humor, and is a tongue in cheek type of view of the world according to Lady Hardcastle and Flo. Both women are delightfully eccentric, with Lady Hardcastle being gifted at endeavors such as pioneering moving pictures and an in-depth study of botany while Flo keeps herself busy performing many of the tasks normally done by a ladies maid unless called upon to employ her more combative skills. Their relationship to each other is one of two friends who know each other so well, they can read each other’s minds. Their conversations are entertaining for both the content and the humor with which they are written. Lady Hardcastle spends most of her time pretending to be a ditzy, slightly off-balance lady who takes nothing seriously while Flo pretends to be a servant when they are in public and clearly is a friend and equal to Lady Hardcastle when they aren’t in the presence of others.
In this novel, Flo, who technically works for Lady Hardcastle, has finally badgered her into a vacation to the seashore. They set off to have what they believe is to be a calm, relaxing time at the shore, going on donkey rides, watching Punch and Judy shows, eating fish and chips and in general being tourists. The trip doesn’t turn out to be anything like they expected, which leads to hilarious entertainment in the form of a new adventure for the two women.
The hotel they reserve features five other guests, all from different countries, one of whom identifies himself as an employee of England doing some type of secret work. Lady Hardcastle quickly identifies the other “guests” as being foreign agents and proceeds to engage their attention and learn what exactly is taking place. Almost immediately after meeting the English scientist, he disappears, along with a strongbox he had secreted under his bed. As Lady Hardcastle engages first one then another of the guests she learns each of them believe the contents of the now missing strongbox contains information their respective governments might want. The questions are, is the scientist dead or missing? what’s in the strongbox? and where is it now?
Before Lady Hardcastle and Flo can begin much of an investigation, another guest is murdered, forcing Lady Hardcastle to contact her brother who works for the government and ask for his help in dealing with the murder. Of course he helps, encourages her to not get involved, she ignores his demands, and on the book goes to the next adventure.
If you like lighthearted intrigue books with agents which are just on the other side of believable, then this may be the book for you. Lady Hardcastle are delightful in their banter between each other as well as other characters in the book. The adventure itself is well plotted and fun, even though the reader is required to suspend disbelief a little in order to fully enjoy it. While it is a series, it isn’t necessary to read the books in order as each adventure is a complete story within itself. There are some recurring background characters, and the reader’s enjoyment may be enhanced somewhat by reading the books in order. If you can’t find one, though, don’t let that stop you from sampling this highly entertaining series.
My thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced digital read copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
That’s it for now. I’m thinking about sitting in a chair and reading for several hours every day for the next few days until my body adjusts to the time change. While I’m not sure that’s totally necessary, it would be an enjoyable way to spend a few hours and keep my mind off how much I hate time change! Happy Reading.