Cozy mysteries are very much in vogue, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I love cozy mysteries. Nothing gets cozier than a mystery set in a quaint English village, set in the early 20th century. Add a peer as the protagonist, and the stakes go up. Make that protagonist a woman and the stakes go much higher.
In The Market for Murder is one of the best mystery novels I have read in a while, and that’s saying a lot.
I think I missed the first installment of Lady Hardcastle and her loyal servant Armstrong. But diving in directly into the second book didn’t take anything away from the story. We learn the duo is rumored to have done a lot for King and country, in foreign locales, no less. Now they are living the quiet life in a small village in Gloucestershire. As quiet as life in an English village can be. The murder happens early on. A grouchy farmer falls dead in his pie. Everyone wanted to kill him. No one knows what killed him.
So there’s not a lot of sleuthing to be done for our pair who are on the job because the police are on another case. The crime spree seems to escalate and readers are regaled with many smaller crimes that plague the village. Lady Hardcastle buys a motor car which is available immediately. Unlike Henry Ford’s, it comes in a red color. The telephone is going to take months to be installed.
Some characteristics of the era are maintained, such as the lady calling her maid a servant. As a line in the book says, every crime seems simple once it is solved. You will feel the same after the big ‘denouement’, but you will have a fantastic ride while you’re at it.
In The Market for Murder is hands down a must read if you are a mystery fan. Downton Abbey fans will like to know this book is set in a similar era.