Sometimes you decide right away that you will enjoy
someone's company. Lady Hardcastle and her skilled Welsh
maid Florence Armstrong immediately struck me as being
great fun and well drawn, sharp characters. Following A
Quiet Life In The Country which I hadn't read, we see the
two women settling into the English countryside in 1909
after many travels in the East. Lady Hardcastle, a widow,
was injured and is gently recovering, keen to test her wits
on a new challenge. Then they go to a country market, and
the scene is set for IN THE MARKET FOR MURDER.
A cattle farmer named Spencer Caradine is the victim; he
dies in the crowded pub on Chipping Bevington cattle market
day. A rumour says he's been poisoned. As the police
detectives have to come from Bristol, the task of asking
local questions happily falls to the experienced lady, in
co-operation with the village constable. Those were quieter
times. The first order of the day is to find out how to get
a telephone installed. The next, from whom to borrow a
motor car and driver. Mrs Caradine gives a good picture of
her late husband, as a disagreeable curmudgeon, and
everyone concurs that he could start a fight in an empty
room. But are there any motives for murder? Lady Hardcastle
and resourceful Florence just have to keep making
enquiries. There's a sidestep case involving a burglary.
Coincidence, or not, they must discover.
As much as the time we enjoy the place; they go hand in
hand. Before the Great War it was unusual for servants to
be treated as equals but for all her muttering about a
lady's maid who might not get supper tonight, Lady
Hardcastle has known Flo for so long that she regards her
as family. And Flo turns out to have played rugby with her
brothers. The manor house is described in charming detail
and items like an elephant's foot umbrella stand evoke the
period. The wealthy of the district keep referring to their
trips around the Empire, which lifts the tale completely
from just being another village murder. And installing a
telephone will have to wait upon the installation of
T E Kinsey tells us that he grew up in England and studied
history at Bristol University, before writing for an
entertainment website. Now he has started the marvelously
engaging 'Lady Hardcastle Mysteries' I hope to be reading a
lot more by him. IN THE MARKET FOR MURDER? Yes!
Spring, 1909, and Lady Hardcastle, amateur sleuth and
all-round eccentric, is enjoying a well-deserved rest. But a
week after a trip to the cattle market, Spencer Caradine, a
local farmer, turns up dead in the pub, face-down in his
beef and mushroom pie. Once again, it is up to Lady
Hardcastle and her maid, Florence, to solve the case.
Armed with wit and whimsy, not to mention Florence’s mean
right hook, the pair set out to discover what really
happened and why. Was it poison or just ill luck?
As they delve further into their investigation, they
encounter a theft where nothing is stolen, a séance with a
troubled ghost and an ever-increasing number of Spencer’s
family and friends who might just have motive for murder.
One thing’s for sure: Lady Hardcastle has a mystery on her
Revised edition: Previously published as The Spirit is
Willing, this edition of In The Market For Murder
includes editorial revisions.