The first book I read in this series was #7 – The Fatal Flying Affair – and I loved it so much I immediately purchased the first six books. Since this book is every bit as good as that 7th book was, I think that is a portent that I’ve found a wonderful writer and a great series. Now, I can’t wait to get to the other books in the series. The writing is excellent, of course, and the characters are exceedingly smart, witty, and entertaining.
I listened to the audiobook version of the book and the narrator, Elizabeth Knowelden, did an excellent job. The pacing was smooth, nicely done, and each character had a distinct voice. What I thoroughly enjoyed was the humor came right through into the voice. I felt as if the narrator was smiling while she was performing.
Lady Emily Hardcastle and her lady’s maid, Florence Armstrong, aren’t exactly what they seem. They have been together for almost two decades and their relationship is much more than employee and employer. They are great friends, but maintaining the façade of their relationship serves their purpose. While it isn’t plainly said, it is strongly hinted that Lady H and Flo were in service to the Crown.
Lady Hardcastle has decided to retire and she and Flo are just moving into their rented home in the country. Ah – the quiet country life! Just a few days into that tranquil new life Lady H and Flo decide to take a walk around the area – and – well – there goes the tranquility. They come upon the body of a young man hanging from an old oak tree in Combe Wood. Lady Hardcastle stays with the body while Flo dashes into town to fetch a constable. The constable doesn’t seem to have a lot in the brain department as Flo is telling him about finding the body.
‘Lady Hardcastle and I were walking in Combe Woods and we found a man hanging from the old oak in the clearing.’
No, I thought to myself, he was in remarkably fine spirits, actually, despite the rope round his neck. His face was purple and his breathing a little . . . absent, but he seemed frightfully well, considering. I decided not to say that, though. Be polite, Flo, I thought. ‘Yes, Constable, quite dead.
When yet another body turns up, and a major theft occurs, Inspector Sunderland allows Lady H and Flo to sit in on the suspect interviews and help with the case. Sunderland quickly comes to understand what formidable ladies they are and welcomes them to continue to assist him.
The culprits will most likely surprise you, and the wit and humor throughout the book will delight you. Should you choose to read this book, I hope you will love it as much as I did.