A Quiet Life in the Country: A Lady Hardcastle Mystery, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they’ve just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life.
But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There’s a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation...
As Lady Hardcastle and Flo delve deeper into rural rivalries and resentment, they uncover a web of intrigue that extends far beyond the village. With almost no one free from suspicion, they can be certain of only one fact: there is no such thing as a quiet life in the country.
Revised edition: This edition of A Quiet Life In The Country includes editorial revisions.
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|Listening Length||7 hours and 43 minutes|
|Author||T E Kinsey|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||04 October 2016|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 13,129 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
66 in Private Investigator Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
71 in Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
89 in Traditional Detective Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
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Top reviews from Australia
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The speed Flo and Lady Hardcastle are taken into the police's confidence is farfetched. Actually, there's a lot of implausible situations in the book. I certainly wasn’t a fan of the background stories. Okay, maybe there were a couple of cute ideas but I think Kinsey just pushed it all too far. The women's mad skills left both characters edging towards Mary Sue territory.
The mystery plot line overall wasn’t too bad but I did feel like it was a bit erratic at times. I have since learned that this novel was originally a couple of shorter stories that Kinsey combined and edited them into one book. This seems obvious now and explains the mish-mash feeling I had whilst reading when it came to the crimes.
Talking of mish mashes, I didn’t really understand what Kinsey was going for with respect to the relationship between Flo and Lady Hardcastle. Is he trying to lead them towards a lesbian/romantic relationship? He could be going for a mother/daughter relationship, considering their ages, but I never got that impression. There’s nothing wrong with just female friends but the book seemed to include a bit of an odd undercurrent between them that, in the end, left me plain confused.
What I wasn’t confused about was that Lady Hardcastle does not treat Flo like a servant and considers her an equal. I know for sure they eat all their meals together. I know for sure they like to spend time with each other socially. I know for sure that every other character in the book is confused by all this but some find it quite amusing. I know all this because Kinsey reminded me of these points at least once every 5 or so pages. Yes, a show and not tell style could have made me less annoyed.
Look, I have since read Kinsey’s website about the book and he seems to have good intentions. His thoughts were that it was probably pretty common for women and their maids to be real friends and, yes, it is an interesting premise. However, the reader didn’t need to have this ‘quirky’ idea shoved down their throat over and over. In fact, we got it in the first chapter. The whole irritating mentioning of it again and again and again is probably what muddied the waters and added to my confusion as to the true nature of the women's relationship.
I did listen to this via audible and, although the narrator does a pretty good job, maybe she influenced me unduly. If I am to read any of the sequels I think I will just do it the old fashioned way.
Anyway… rant over. I've pondered my rating and have decided to go straight down the middle and give the book 2 1/2 stars out of 5.
It is a pity the back-story has not been better filled in.; I was a good way into the book before discovering that it was not part of a series. Also, i was not surprised to learn (after finishing the book) that the story was in fact two short stories conflated into a long one. The humour is not very funny.
But what really condemns this book is the way the word 'shall' is splashed about under the impression that it is a posh way of speaking. "Shall" and "will" are not interchangeable; the rules governing their use are, admittedly, slightly lunatic, but they are not at all difficult to memorize. That Mr Kinsey has not, apparently, even encountered them is a sad reflection on the standards at Bristol University. He should consult the Concise Oxford Dictionary, and then read the "Ode to the Fallen."
There is crime to solve and it is clever and doesn't feel contrived at all, but it's the relationships of the characters that feels so real and makes this book a joy.
I've read the second book and can't wait to download the third too.
I really enjoyed this book - often funny never boring and has you guessing who it was that was the murderer. Highly recommended
Mix a few quirky characters, upstairs & downstairs, an English country village and a couple of old-fashioned murders and you have the first book in the Lady Hardcastle series.
I'm looking forward to catching up with Lady Hardcastle and Flo again.
Top reviews from other countries
I really enjoy a good cosy mystery, and ‘A Quiet Life in the Country’ is far better than simply ‘good’. Here’s a few of the reasons I found it so enjoyable:
●The main protagonists, Lady Hardcastle and Armstrong, are intelligent, sassy, and their banter is a joy to read.
●It has all the elements of a period cosy: Village location, gentry and servants, a genial police superintendent, and the obligatory doctor who also doubles-up as a pathologist.
●The historical detail is excellent, even down to the inclusion of a few archaic terms within the dialogue.
●The mix of subtle humour with dry witticisms, and tongue-in-the-cheek retorts gave rise to many a smile, and more than a few chuckles.
●The plot zips along at a very pleasing pace. There’s never a dull moment.
●As with all the best cosy mysteries, there is plenty for the amateur detectives to get their teeth in to. In this case two murders and a jewel theft.
●The history between Lady Hardcastle and Armstrong is revealed in little snippets. From China to India, theirs is a long and interesting association.
●Although in many ways a classic cosy, ‘A Quiet Life in the Country’ differs in that it breaks many of the social norms. Lady’s maid, Armstrong is clever, assertive and trained in martial arts.
●The price! Slightly crass to mention money it may be, but four to five hours of excellent entertainment for less than the price of a cup of tea has got to be worth shouting about.
I’ve read a lot of cosy mysteries, and have to say I found this is one of the very best in what is an increasingly competitive field. An absolute bonus is that there are more in the series…I’m off to download book two 😊
Just not my cup of tea.
Bored silly by a poor attempt at a light hearted amateur sleuth adventure
It fails in all respects , the characters are wooden and the dialogue irritates , the plot gets lost .
Fought my way through 50% and gave up , which I rarely do but just couldn’t stand wasting my time anymore.
It is certainly not great literature, not in the league of Agatha Christie, but it is pleasant enough. The characters remind me of Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter, though the relationship between Lady Emily and Armstrong is a little more relaxed than Wimsey-Bunter. It made a pleasant change to have a Holmes-Watson female duo.
One of the problems with a set of new characters is informing the back-story, and I do not think that this was well handled. One can either devote a chunk of the start of the book to this, or drop little snippets into the story. The author chose the latter, which has led to some rather forced conversations: "do you remember...?" or "when we were in...".
The characters are a mixture, some reasonably well rounded. Others are like the cardboard policemen one sometimes sees at the entrance to a supermarket, flat and wooden, with some just a caricature of what would have been the reality (thinking of the rather laughable housekeeper at The Grange). Despite this, I found that some of the characters were quite likeable, and their "cor blimey govner" speech was amusing. I think that I was reading this as more of a pastiche of a crime novel, than something to be taken seriously.
Having said that, though, the storyline is actually good. Although it makes for some stilted conversations, Lady Emily shares everything with the reader, so you have to be alert to spot the red herrings, and certainly it isn't a story where you straight away go "the butler did it" (but did he, you'll need to read the book to find out).
On the whole I would recommend this book as a little light reading. As I said, it's not great literature, but neither is it rubbish. I found that it kept my attention, amused me, though not as laughing out loud, but more a smile. I enjoyed it.