My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy for review which in no way influenced this review. I love historical fiction and I've noticed that authors have branched out from the Victorian era, finally. This isn't too far from that, set in the Edwardian era with two very fun characters, Emily, Lady Hardcastle and her lady's maid, Armstrong (Florence but she goes by her last name and she is the point of view character).
To be honest, chapter one is a bit rough. It tries to start out more or less in media res as Armstrong and Hardcastle move into Emily's new country home and it' a tad confusing. It settles down nicely by the next chapter. It's obvious that Armstrong and Emily are not just mere maid and mistress. They've been through stuff together (References to their wild adventures pepper the story, especially their time in China and India where Armstrong has learned some hand to hand combat). These ladies are friends and Armstrong is the anchor to the more wild Emily.
On a walk in the woods as they try to get to know their neighbors, turns up a dead body hanging in a tree. They help out the local constabulatory with it but the detective from one of the larger towns is less interested in the case and they assume he's either lazy or stupid and set out to clear the young man he hauled off for the crime.
Soon enough, Lady Hardcastle is invited to the engagement reception of a local girl thrown by her social climbing mother. Also in this is a friend of Emily's mother, also quite wealthy by local standards. During the party another death happens and a special gem has been stolen. Working with that same detective, the ladies learn he isn't as much of an uncaring fool as they thought.
I really liked the mystery and the ladies. It was a fun story and I'll be looking forward to more.
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