Death Beside the Seaside (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery)

Written by T. E. Kinsey
Review by Ellen Keith

Sixth in Kinsey’s Lady Hardcastle and Florence Armstrong series, Death Beside the Seaside finds the redoubtable duo in the summer of 1910, looking to enjoy a vacation at the Steep Holm View Hotel in Weston-super-Mare. Naturally, it’s anything but a vacation as the retired spy and her raised-in-a-circus companion are thrust into the middle of a mystery. Try as they might to enjoy Punch and Judy shows by the seaside, the hotel manager requests their assistance when scientist Dr. Goddard and his top-secret strongbox go missing. Lady Hardcastle and Flo have a veritable United Nations of suspects: Sergei Kusnetsov, Ernst Schneider, Kaito Takahashi, and Jean Martin. But when the suspects are dispatched by murder one by one, and a young American girl is kidnapped, the mystery takes a darker turn.

The strength of the series is the delightful relationship between Lady Hardcastle and Flo, who complement each other perfectly and banter with each other non-stop. Although only in her 40s, Lady Hardcastle, as a widow with a title, has the freedom to behave however she likes, and Flo, although nominally her lady’s maid, is accorded the same respect. Kinsey captures the English seaside expertly, although so much attention is drawn to the tides that I knew they would figure in the denouement. The mystery itself feels a little darkly comedic with every suspect turning up dead, but this is another entertaining entry in this series.