Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Lady Hardcastle Mysteries #7
Publication Date: 12/3/20
Number of Pages: 316
OH! This was a delightful author and series to find. Coming into the series with book seven only made me want to go back and discover the delights of the first six books. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a read this much in a long time. The mystery is realistic, the writing is excellent, the prose is witty, the story is excellently paced, and the characters are all wonderful. How have I missed this series? I, who insists on a bit of romance in my mysteries, didn’t even miss it in this book. Go figure! Just as an FYI to the other miscreants out there who have also missed this series – this book can easily be read as a standalone. References are made to former cases and people, but not in such a way that you feel you are lacking some knowledge.
For those of you who are familiar with this series, you might want to skip this paragraph because it is about my take on who Lady Emily Hardcastle and Florence Armstrong are and what they do. My take may not be totally correct because it is mostly from suppositions based on some of the things mentioned in this book. However, I’ll know all once I manage the time to go back and read the earlier stories. Lady Hardcastle has been a widow for something like thirteen years. Florence has worked for Lady Hardcastle for something like seventeen years. Officially, Florence is Emily’s lady’s maid, but that is just to explain Florence’s presence at various functions. Florence is really Emily’s friend and partner in their work for the Crown. Both ladies have spent years working for the Crown and they are exceedingly skilled at what they do – and who – in that time period – would ever suspect a Lady and her maid of being agents for the Crown? They’ve been retired for the last three years and living in Littleton Cotterell in Gloucestershire – near Bristol.
Lady H and Flo have enjoyed their retirement and country living, but when Lady H’s brother Harry, who works for the Secret Service, approaches the indomitable pair about returning to active service, they quickly agree. It seems that something just isn’t right at the Bristol Aviation and Aeronautics Company. Harry’s organization has determined that someone is leaking design information to foreign agents, and a gifted young engineer was killed in a testing accident. That accident might not have been an accident. Harry needs Emily and Flo to figure out what is going on at the company, Identify the leaker, and to determine if the young engineer was murdered.
With political tensions already making themselves felt in 1911, everyone is fearful of an approaching war. Even those who aren’t ‘in the know’ about what is actually happening are feeling the tensions mounting. Emily and Flo know more than most – especially with Harry filling them in – so they embark on their new investigation determined to find who is betraying England to foreign powers.
I absolutely adore the banter between Harry, Emily, and Flo. They are all well-suited and can always make a very tense situation less tense with their humor and wit. I adore how absolutely talented the two ladies are – and how they thoroughly enjoy pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Those people, especially males, tend to discount two females, especially a Lady and her tiny little lady’s maid. They discount Flo and Emily at their own peril!
This is a delightful read with a great mystery (or two or three or …) and such delightful characters that you will love them all. I definitely recommend the book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.