The Fatal Flying Affair (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery)
In the cozy mystery category, the Lady Hardcastle series is one of the best. Erudite, funny, and so very British, the series follows the adventures of Lady Emily Hardcastle and her lady’s maid, Florence Armstrong (or Strongarm, as Hardcastle’s brother Harry calls her) as they breezily investigate murders and other mysteries all the while engaging in light-hearted banter and making visits to the local pub for a pint. In this latest installment of the series, brother Harry who works for the Ministry asks the intrepid pair to look into the unexplained death of a young man who was killed when his test parachute ripped apart in midair.
This leads Lady Hardcastle and Miss Armstrong into one of the first aeroplane building-and-design facilities of the era. The hangars make a perfect setting for sleuthing and exposing dangerous saboteurs. (However, they’re never called “saboteurs” because as Kinsey explains in his author’s note—which is just as entertaining as the book itself—the word didn’t exist in 1911.) When they aren’t taking trips in rickety flying contraptions, which are prone to have exploding engines, Lady Hardcastle and Miss Armstrong fret over the upcoming village talent show. And when the hall for the talent show burns down, it’s up to Miss Armstrong to save the day, something she has a talent for doing.
The dual heroines of the book are delightful characters, and the historical details of the aerospace industry’s birth pains give an added dimension to the story. Once again Lady Hardcastle and Miss Armstrong do not disappoint.