My rating: 4 of 5 stars
You can find this review and all my others over at www.readbookrepeat.wordpress.com
received a copy of this book from the publisher, Thomas & Mercer, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating of 3.5 stars.
Lady Hardcastle and her hand maid Flo Armstrong are living a quiet life in Littleton Cotterell, a small village near Gloucestershire in England. A moving picture festival has been invited to the village and the townsfolk are incredibly excited to see what they have to offer. When the kitchen burns down at the house the film folk were planning to stay, Lady Hardcastle is approached and asked if she would mind putting up the village guests, to which she agrees. However, when the film folk start dying in the same way that their characters are killed in the headlining moving picture being showed, Hardcastle and Armstrong find themselves thrown into yet another mystery. Who is murdering the village visitors? Is it the jealous former friend of Mr. Cheetham? The protesters who believe that the moving picture is evil? It’s a mystery shrouded in shadows, and Lady Hardcastle and her hand maid, Armstrong, have their work cut out for them.
This is actually the first story I’ve read in the Lady Hardcastle Mysteries series. I didn’t realise when I requested this that it was number four, however, this doesn’t impact the reading of the story at all. Sure I’ve missed out on the evolution of Hardcastle and Armstrong’s relationship, but it doesn’t actually leave me feeling confused about anything. There are some references to past mysteries that they’ve been involved in, but these are pretty detailed so I didn’t feel as though I missed out on anything at all.
I found the characters charming, Hardcastle is a quirky woman who is rather endearing in her nature, as well as Armstrong, I love their characters, and the relationship between them. Hardcastle treats Armstrong more as a friend than a hand maid and I absolutely love this. The same can be said about the cook and cleaner as well, it’s such a relaxed atmosphere for these characters which wasn’t so much heard of in the early 1900s.
The language used in the book took a little bit of getting used to, but that’s to be expected, old style cockney English, as I would put it, can be a bit hard to understand at times, but it really gives the reader the feel of the time period.
This was a very calm, slow moving novel with a lot of flowery writing. I feel that if it was done any other way, however, that it just wouldn’t have been the same. At times I found that the book felt way longer than it actually was, but I think this was because of the pacing and the writing style. While the pacing was on the slower side, it was consistent, so it worked perfectly for this story.
The mystery was done incredibly well, I had a couple of ideas of who was behind it all, and I actually had it right, but I didn’t know that until the final reveal which is perfect for me. It’s never much fun if you happen to work out the mystery halfway through the story and the character’s are still fumbling around in the dark utterly clueless. The way that the deaths were done was brilliantly thought out and had me puzzled which is a nice change from other mysteries that I’ve read. It really had me thinking and trying to work out how this was done as things just weren’t adding up. I felt all the frustrating that the character’s did, it’s great.
I really did enjoy this story now that I’ve had a moment to sit down and think about it. The characters made it for me. I’m sure that I will definitely be checking out more in this series, and I look forward to the next instalment, I’m already missing Hardcastle and Armstrong’s quick wit, sarcasm, and hilarious retorts. Nothing like a “lady” in the 1900s should be, and it’s just the way I like it.