Death around the Bend
It’s 1909 in England, and Lady Hardcastle and her maid, Florence Armstrong, are guests at “Fishy’s” or Lord Riddlethorpe’s country estate. However, what was supposed to be a relaxing week of parties and games and Fishy’s newfound hobby, motor racing, turns deadly. The accidental death of a professional driver becomes murder when Lady Hardcastle and Florence learn that the car’s brakes have been snipped. Then, another guest is murdered and several other guests have attempts made on their lives. As the police take their time investigating, Lady Hardcastle and Florence begin their own snooping and off-handed spying and even bring in household servants to do what they do best: listen, but pretend they’re not, and report back.
Reading Death around the Bend, the third installment in the Lady Hardcastle Mysteries, was like watching Downton Abbey with insight into the life of the Edwardian aristocracy and their strict adherence to propriety and formality, as well as the lives and social expectations of servants. Lady Hardcastle, however, is the exception to the rules of status. She treats Florence as a friend and her equal in solving crimes while she offhandedly fulfills her duties as a lady’s maid.
Death around the Bend immersed me in the social manners of the Edwardian aristocracy with authentic language that stood on formality but was balanced with lots of wit and humour. Although representative of their classes, the characters each had some unsavory side that fleshed them out. The novel has a solid mystery and is an enjoyable read.