An Act of Foul Play

9 (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery)

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Pub Date 29 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 13 Dec 2022
Amazon Publishing UK, Thomas & Mercer

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November 1911. Lady Emily Hardcastle is celebrating her birthday by seeing a play at the Duke’s Theatre in Bristol with her maid and confidante, the inimitable Flo. Act One is a triumph. Then Act Two opens with a body on stage—a real one. One of the cast has been brutally murdered during the interval.

When other matters get in the way of Inspector Sunderland overseeing the case himself, he asks the ever-resourceful Lady H to keep a watchful eye on the suspects—and his police colleagues. Rustling up some cunning disguises of their own, she and Flo are soon in deep cover among the cast and crew, pulling back the curtain on some shocking secrets and rivalries…

The problem is, everyone seems to have a motive, and everyone seems to have an alibi…In this locked-room mystery in which nothing is as it seems, the amateur sleuths need to put on the performances of their lives if they’re to stand a chance of shining a spotlight on the truth…

November 1911. Lady Emily Hardcastle is celebrating her birthday by seeing a play at the Duke’s Theatre in Bristol with her maid and confidante, the inimitable Flo. Act One is a triumph. Then Act Two...

A Note From the Publisher

Tim Kinsey grew up in London and read history at Bristol University. An Act of Foul Play is the ninth story in the Lady Hardcastle Mystery series, and he is also the author of the Dizzy Heights Mystery series. His website is at and you can follow him on Twitter @tekinsey, as well as on Facebook――and Instagram @tekinseymysteries.

Tim Kinsey grew up in London and read history at Bristol University. An Act of Foul Play is the ninth story in the Lady Hardcastle Mystery series, and he is also the author of the Dizzy Heights...

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ISBN 9781542031486
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Featured Reviews

This is the first cozy mystery I've ever read, so I had very little idea of what to expect going into it. As a result, my review will probably be more helpful to other people who, like me, aren't familiar with the Lady Hardcastle series and are curious to know if it's the right choice for them.

I liked the period setting of the story. The two amateur sleuths of the story, Lady Hardcastle and her maid Florence Armstrong, live a very characteristic English life. A significant portion of the book was dedicated to their everyday activities unrelated to the murder mystery itself: dinners, afternoon teas, hanging out with friends, etc. It helped to set the "cozy" atmosphere, and if that's something you like, I think you'll enjoy the book quite thoroughly as that style is consistent from beginning to end.

For me, however, I was not expecting that in a murder mystery at all. It just feels too "normal" to me. I struggled with the fact that there was absolutely no tension in this story -- a murder happened, yet no one seemed troubled by it. No fear, surprise, or worry whatsoever. The main characters' only reaction to the murder(s) appears to be: oh, how interesting, let's poke our noses in it! In fact, they seem so unbothered by this that over half of the book is actually focused on their typical daily lives, instead of the murder-solving. I mean, I get it, these people are used to seeing murders, but I suppose this is where the concept of "cozy mystery" gets me. Does no one else find it strange that a murder can be treated in such a lighthearted and carefree way?

The solving part of the mystery also felt very amateur to me. Yes, I get it again, they <i>are</i> amateurs sleuths. But the investigation still seemed too easy even for that. Everyone was trusted to be telling the truth, and all the evidence was in plain sight. One just had to actually see it. Maybe this is also typical for cozy mystery... I just found it too convenient for my taste, and in a way, it makes the whole story seem very staged.

Once again, I admit that cozy mystery is new to me. Given my lack of familiarity with the genre, I'm not going to hold these letdowns against this particular book, though I do feel like the whole thing could've been more natural to read if it wasn't a murder. Something more mild, like a betrayal or loss of memory in a typical domestic suspense, would work better with a laid-back atmosphere like this.

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I chose this book because I typically enjoy cosy mysteries, and the Lady Hardcastle mysteries had been recommended to me previously by some other readers.

I enjoyed this book. It was a light-hearted cosy mystery story, and I found the characters quirky and amusing, as well as a little bit eccentric, perhaps. It didn't take too long to read, and the storyline held my interest.

I think it would have been preferable to read the other books in the series prior to this one, because if I had, I might be more familiar with the characters, and of course, if you read a series, it makes sense to start at the beginning. Having said that, I would be interested in reading more of the books in this series.

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Did not enjoy this one. Uninteresting stock characters prattling on about this and that. A very interesting premise for a murder—an actor found stabbed on stage—gets lost in discussions of buns, the suffragette movement and household accounts

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Another great entry in the Lady Hardcastle Mystery series, it's great that this series is still going strong nine books in. It still felt fresh and had a interesting mystery going on. The characters were spot on and I enjoyed trying to solve this mystery with them. I enjoyed the way T E Kinsey wrote this, and I was hooked from the first page.

‘Until I’m able to take charge of the case, you mean?’ said the inspector as he tucked eagerly into the lavish breakfast. ‘That’s the main reason for my visit, actually. I was hoping you might do what you do best and continue to poke your noses in for me. See what you can find out before I swoop in and take all the glory.’

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T E Kinsey has written another winner in the Lady Hardcastle series. The story starts with a celebratory trip to enjoy an evening of theatre and dinner for the birthday of Lady Hardcastle. However, the evening is marred by the murder of one of the actors. While, Inspector Sunderland is in the Lady's party, he does not get assigned to this case. Sadly Inspector Wyatt is assigned and begins bungling the case immediately. However, Lady Hardcastle and her trusty "tiny servant," Florence go undercover to see that justice is served. Or that is what they are hoping for. Will this be the last in the series? Will one of our protagonists finally be caught out by a killer?

I found the book highly entertaining - and for me, very appropriate as I read it will preparing to be in a play. The scene is set so well and the actors are characterized quite well. The story kept me interested from the very beginning, as have all of Kinsey's books that I have read. If you love a cosy mystery, I feel certain that you will enjoy this book.

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This ARC was provided to me via Kindle, from Amazon Publishing UK and #NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to preview and review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.

A wonderful cozy mystery that fans off the genre will enjoy.

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Another fabulous mystery featuring Lady Emily Hardcstle and Flo Anderson. The crimes are always good but the relationship between these two is the best. This story adds in Flo's sister Gwen and is terrific.

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Another fast-moving and comic romp with Lady Hardcastle and ostensible maid Flo (this time, joined by Flo's twin sister). I came across this series on Kindle during the pandemic and quickly read all installments. The series is clever, breezy, and entertaining. Though the crime-solving duo has a somewhat improbable history, egalitarian relationship, and skill set, and their village and its surrounds have an uncommonly high murder rate (a la Cabot Cove), you will be too amused to dwell on the details. This book can easily be read as a standalone, but reading the full series is a delight.

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I’m always thrilled when author T.E. Kinsey returns with another fun and funny cozy featuring Emily, Lady Hardcastle, and her sassy maid and sidekick Florence Armstrong. I love the spin-off Dizzy Heights series, as well, but there’s nothing like the originals Emily and Flo!

In this ninth entry in the series, the indomitable duo are at a Bristol theater when the curtain opens on the second act only to reveal the leading man, dead with a knife in him. Yikes! Of course, the pair ending up investigating, and there are plenty of surprises along the way — including a revelation about Flo’s family that I won’t reveal. The motive for the murder is a bit off, but I loved the novel anyway.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK in exchange for an honest review.

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Lady Emily and Flo solve the murder of an actor - that happens while they are in the audience - in the latest cozy mystery in the series. Witty dialogue, clever but not overly complicated plot, and if you have read the earlier books in the series, like meeting old friends again. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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A Plethora Of Motives…
The ninth in the Lady Hardcastle series of mysteries finds our protagonist enjoying a birthday treat at the theatre. Surely all will go well in such tranquil surroundings? Not so, as tragedy is about to strike. After all, what would Lady H do without a murder or two - and what could really be a better treat for a Lady’s birthday? Can the killer be caught? With a plethora of motives and alibis the game is afoot. Enter Inspector Sunderland ready to take the centre stage - and the glory. Another delightful and enjoyable entry in this engaging, long running series.

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Lady Emily Hardcastle and her companion, Florence Armstrong were celebrating Lady Hardcastle's birthday with their Bristol friends at the Duke's Theatre. But when the second act started, one of the actors was found dead. Since Inspector Sunderland was on the scene, he started the investigation but was assigned another case and so asked Lady Hardcastle and Flo to keep him up to date on the case. And so the two infiltrate the theatre company and start to piece together what happened. In the meantime another murder takes place and then Flo's twin sister, Gwen comes to visit and is pulled into their investigations.
Another enjoyable cozy mystery in this series with their snappy dialogue and the behind-the-scene look at the goings on in a theatre company.
Thank you NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for this e-galley of "An Act of Foul Play".

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An Act of Foul Play was a lot of fun to read. A great cozy mystery light on gory details and full of humor. There is a great dynamic among the characters that often made me laugh out loud.

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It's Nov 1911 Lady Hardcastle is back along with her made Flo for their ninth adventure.
The group are off to the theatre to celebrate a birthday. When the second half of the play brings an unexpected and unpleasant surprise. It's up to Inspector Sunderland to jump in and take charge. I feel although it can be read as a standalone it would be a benefit to read the other books in the series. This is a good cosy English murder mystery, fun characters and wonderful word usage. With a definite flare for the world of the amateur dramatics.

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I absolutely love this series of books and am so pleased that once again the author has produced another wonderful story about Lady Hardcastle and Flo. The usual friends are there to help them solve the murder, but this time Flo's twin sister is also along for the ride. I really enjoyed that this murder was based in the theatre and loved the descriptions of the backstage elements, as they are never as well maintained as the public spaces. I cannot wait until the next installment in this most wonderful series.

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Lady Emily and Florence are once again pulled into solving a murder when an actor is found dead on stage in their presence. It must be one of his fellow Astor's - right? There are plenty of secrets and alibis to wade through. Luckily for them, Flo's twin sister arrives to help. As always the book is full of fun dialogue and great characters.

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A very welcome return for Lady Emily Hardcastle and Flo. A night at the theatre turns decidedly dastardly and with Inspector Sunderland required elsewhere a hapless detective is assigned to the case. Proving the innocence of some whilst pursuing motive and method of the killer becomes a real “who dunnit’ that will keep you captivated. And who exactly, is the cellar thief pocketing a bottle of booze down at their local, the Dog and Duck? Good job Flo’s twin sister is visiting and on hand to assist.

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A quick, easy and enjoyable cosy murder mystery. It was well written with a well developed cast of characters that were funny and easy to like and a storyline that i liked and kept me engaged. I will definitely check out some more from this series.

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This is the ninth outing for Lady Emily Hardcastle and her maid Flo and this time the murder occurs while they are at the theatre. As the curtain rises for the second act of a comedy, one of the actors is discovered on stage having been stabbed to death.
I have enjoyed the previous books in this series and this one felt like discovering old friends. The dialogue between Lady Hardcastle and Flo is still as sharp as ever and they are joined this time by Flo’s identical twin sister which adds to the fun.
The plot was an interesting one and I loved the theatrical theme. As usual, a lot of time is spent on the details of their normal lives but I felt that the murder mystery was almost secondary this time.
It’s a fun read for lovers of this series but I don’t think that it is one of the author’s best.
Thank you to Net Galley and Amazon Publishing for my ARC.

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laugh-out-loud, laugh-riot, situational-humor, verbal-humor, England, historical-novel, historical-research, historical-setting, cosy-mystery, theatre, actors, twins, punny, women-sleuths, light-hearted, 1910s, murder, murder-investigation*****

This CANNOT be an unbiased review because i LOVE the Lady Hardcastle series!
This time Lady Hardcastle and lady's maid Florence bring Florence's twin sister into the sleuthing. An actor was murdered onstage and the detective on the case is unusually slipshod, so the women get involved to do the REAL sleuthing and see justice served. Good sleuthing and a cast of zany characters!
Of course I loved it!
I requested and received a free EARC from Amazon Publishing UK/Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley. Thank you!

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This story is back on track from the previous meandering episode. It's more succinct with fewer supects. However, I missed the three interconnected mysteries from the early books and some of the intrigue of learning Lady Hardcastle's backstory. They give a tantalizing hint about something that happened off page and I hope they relate the whole story soon. This story mainly involves the theater and tourism in Bristol so if you're not into the theater, this one might seem a little boring. I happen to love the theater but some of the details were a little boring for someone who has read other mysteries set in the theater but it was super well researched. I especially liked the details about Bristol and had to stop and look up a picture of the Christmas Steps. I also discovered Lady Bickie's home is an apartment hotel now and most everything the sleuths see is still there.

The mystery is super difficult to figure out. It sounds like it would be easy. There are several actors and a couple of motives. The final clue that led Emily to figure things out also clued me in but even then I wasn't 100% sure. It could have been any of them, aside from Rosie who was wrongfully arrested. Having twin sleuths really changes the pattern of the mystery and I really liked it. I apprecited the sympathy towards mental illness in one character but suspect that another character is also mentally unwell for similar reasons and that went overlooked. I was surprised though by the compassion for the first person given the time period, just before WWI.

As always, the characters are a delight! Old and new characters shine on the page. I missed the Farley-Strouds who are once again absent but other than that, the regulars are all here. We even meet Inspector Sunderland's wife for the first time. (Emily and Flo have met her off page previously). The banter between Emily and Flo never gets old. I adore their friendship and how comfortable they are with each other after all these years. Emily acts like the dotty middle-aged widow but Flo begins to suspect it's actually an act - or is it? She's not sure but she's fond of Emily either way and looks after the older woman like her daughter. Apparently it's Flo who instigates the banter because she does it with her sister too! Gwen is a lot of fun. Her personality is more lively than her sister's. She's married and rising to middle class which leaves her bored and lonely while her military husband is away. Even though the twins haven't seen each other in years, they've written and are still close. They seem to pick up right where they left off as children with good natured teasing and double trouble! Gwen made a great addition to the sleuthing team.

Inspector Sunderland is not on the case but he pops in to help smooth the way for the ladies and listen to their observations, in case he is put on the case after the other guy mucks it up. His wife seems very nice and accepting of his job taking him away from her at all hours. Dinah Caudle is eager for a news story but is also capable of being a friend when needs be. She's not super patient but the ladies promise her a story when it is over so she accepts that.

New characters include Lady Hardcastle and Flo's new friend, Lady Bickie. She's a good and loyal friend but can't hold her liquor and can't lie convincingly. She nearly ruins the investigation. Her husband, Sir Benjamin is a dear and has a good sense of humor. They seem like a nice couple.

At the theater, we meet a lot of new people. Paul Singleton, the man who was stabbed and left on stage, was really not a very nice person. He was a ladies' man so his character really depends on who you ask. He was a rogue and a charmer but also a bit slimy. Still, he didn't do anything that would get him killed - unless someone is lying. Lady Bickie's old school friend Helena Bartlett has a brother, Hugh, who is a playwright. He writes the plays for the acting troupe- wonderfully funny comedies that bring the house down. He approached Lady Bickie without introduction which makes me suspicious. She claims she sees a family resemblance but does she really? Why has no one else ever really seen this playwright? He comes across as shy and reclusive, dedicated to his craft but what if he's hiding something? He's my chief suspect for murder. His alibi is quite shocking but not entirely susprising. I kind of suspected something of the sort early on. Yet his alibi is not airtight and he could still be the murderer. Edwin Adlam, the theater manager, is eager to sell tickets. He seems friendly but a little smarmy at the same time. Could he have been so ghastly as to commit murder to sell more tickets to a ghoulish public?

Harris Bridges, the leading man, is handsome and thinks he's clever. He's one of those pomopus bores who speaks for everyone and speaks to everyone. He thinks he knows it all. I hate that type. He's an experienced actor who has been with the company since the beginning so why would he wait until now to kill his fellow actor? He was once engaged to Rosalie Harding, a sweet young woman, who fell in love with Paul. That does give Bridges a motive for murder! Rosie seems sweet at first but apparently she has a temper and can hold her own. Did she kill Paul in anger? Paul's role is taken by his understudy, Patrick Cowlin, a man who has been waiting in the wings for a long time for an opportunity to take a leading role. That would certainly give him a motive for murder. He comes across as cold and standoffish at first but the ladies soon learn to appreciate his better qualities. It doesn't let him off the suspect list though.

Sarah Griffin is the oldest lady in the cast. She's more cynical and not so friendly than some of the others. She's accepting of the ladies poking around and happy to show them around. Should they take her into their confidence? What if she turns out to be the murderer? Does she have a motive? As it turns out, she does and a decent one, unless you believe what she says is true. Nancy Beaufort is the female understudy. She's young and insecure. I think she could easily have been swayed by someone else to murder Paul. Emrys Thornell, the director, could have had the opportunity for murder but what is his motive? A late twist with another murder, the murder of a stagehand, throws everyone's motives into question! Was Dickie Bickell in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did he witness the murder and had to be silenced?

Detective Dick Wyatt is on the case. He's lazy and incompetant and a wannabe ladies' man. He's an ineffective detective and if he manages to solve this case, it will be a miracle. I'm not even sure Lady Hardcastle and Florence can solve this one easily!

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I would like to thank Netgalley and Amazon Publishing UK for an advance copy of An Act of Foul Play, the ninth novel to feature Lady Hardcastle and her ladies maid, Florence Armstrong, set in Gloucestershire in 1911.

Lady Hardcastle and Flo are attending a play in Bristol with friends, but when the curtain goes up for the second half one of the actors is lying dead on stage, fatally stabbed. Inspector Sunderland takes charge initially but has to pass the case on so he asks Lady Hardcastle to keep an informal eye on both the investigation and the suspects. The problem is that everyone has both a motive and an alibi.

I thoroughly enjoyed An Act of Foul Play, which is a fun read with a fiendish puzzle attached. It is told from Flo’s point of view and as she has quite a caustic approach to life her narrative is amusing, as is the interplay between her and Lady Hardcastle - they are quite the double act.

As ever they run around quizzing the suspects on their motives and opportunities, but draw a blank until Lady Hardcastle puts certain events together to work out the rather ingenious way the murder was committed and Flo steps forward to catch a murderer, literally. I don’t think many readers will guess both killer and motive because the necessary information is not available until the denouement. Still, it’s clever and fun.

I have read all the novels in this series and while it’s fun it lacks the exuberance of some of the previous novels. Perhaps it’s all the commuting to Bristol from Little Cottingham or simply that the plot doesn’t lend itself to that kind of emotion.

An Act of Foul Play is a good read that I can recommend.

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The ninth episode in this five star series and I loved every minute of it.

It is 1911 and Lady Emily Hardcastle is celebrating her birthday with a trip to the theatre. Of course, with her luck, someone dies on stage, and she and Flo are caught up again investigating a murder. There even two Florences in this story when her identical twin sister joins her for a visit, and this causes some fun as well as helping to solve a secondary crime.

As usual in this series there is plenty of humour, loads of lovable characters and a tricky mystery with the inevitable red herrings to keep readers on their toes. There are also a number of interesting historical facts dotted throughout, things like the price of shoes in 1911, and the service provided by Rolls Royce. All good fun and a really entertaining read.

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What a wonderful book and one that I had not read the books before this one and yet I still enjoyed this and didn't feel I had missed anything.

This is such a fun book with humour, great characters yet still had the mystery and intrigue. There was also some history and lots of entertainment. Set in an England (Bristol) in 1911 it just oozed that period, the charm and the life.

I loved the characters, Lady Hardcastle just came to life on the page and the inspector was everything I wanted him to be and more. This book entertained me, made me laugh and made for a wonderful read.

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Lady Hardcastle and Florence Armstrong, along with some friends, attend a play for Lady Hardcastle's birthday. When the curtains rise for act two of the play one of the lead actors is lying dead on the stage. Inspector Sunderland is busy with another matter and the detective assigned to the case is ready to arrest the first person that comes to mind, so Sunderland asks our heroines to do the investigating. Aaand they decide to do it using fake identities. Also, Flo's twin sister stays with them for the course of the book do more shenanigans ensue.
One of my favorites in the series! There was so much humor in this one, I feel like more than usual. Lady Hardcastle and Flo have to infiltrate a group of actors and the theater to get to the bottom of things and we get to see all the interactions of the group behind the stage. Oh, and we get to see Flo in action as there is a fight scene at some point. If you haven't read the series yet I highly recommend, it is so much fun.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a new author and series for me, I love Historical Mysteries, so the setting was great, the characters were interesting to a point. I like more shock of discovery, some nuances of what was considered funny were beyond me, and considering I only watch British TV, along with Golden Hollywood, I should have laughed more? Anyway, this is for people who truly love no suspense in their books, no oh I think so and so did it, it's not that kind of book. If you like non threatening light hearted murder mysteries then this is for . Thank you #Netgalley

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It's November 1911, and Lady Hardcastle is celebrating her birthday with friends at a theatre in Bristol. But before the curtain drops, she and her maid, Flo, will be pulled into solving yet another murder. The lead investigator makes more of a mess than the murderer. Can they set things ship shape and Bristol fashion before the killer kills again?

As always, it's the banter and love between Emily and Flo that make this such a fun read. The mystery maybe isn't quite as twisty as some of their cases, and the actors are peculiarly indifferent to, you know, having a murderer in their midst, but honestly, I read the books more for Emily and Flo's antics than for the actual mystery.

This time out, we get to meet Flo's twin sister, Gwen. Gwen helps out with not only this case, but a smaller case where someone is pilfering from the local pub.

While it's nice that their friend Inspector Sunderland trusts and respects them enough to ask for their help, in this book, it seemed more like he was asking them to do his work for him. It's true that Flo and Emily were investigating on their own, and would have, whether he wanted them to or not, but I thought better of the inspector before this.

As usual, our heroines solve the case and save the day. Ride along in their Rolls for a fun and funny historical cozy.

4 out of 5 stars.

I received an advance copy from Amazon Publishing UK via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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As always, I loved this book by T. E. Kinsey – it is witty, intelligent, well-written, and filled with wonderful characters and a puzzling mystery. While it can be read as a stand-alone if you want a fuller, richer experience you should at least read a few of the first books in the series. Lady Emily Hardcastle and Florence Armstrong (her maid/friend) have a very colorful background and you’ll learn all about it in the earlier books – which will make their ‘poking into’ police investigations much easier to understand. They were, after all, spies and certainly have the background for it.

It is Lady Hardcastle’s birthday and she, along with several friends, is celebrating by attending a play in Bristol. The Duke’s theater is featuring a comedy written by the brother of one of Lady Hardcastle’s friends. The first act was hilariously entertaining and after the curtain came down for the intermission, they could hardly wait for the beginning of the second act. Little did they know how exciting that opening would be – for there, on the stage floor, was the body of one of the stars of the play. No, it wasn’t part of the play – it was real. Luckily Inspector Sunderland was in attendance as part of Lady Hardcastle’s celebration and he quickly took over the case. He got everything in motion only to be replaced by the totally incompetent, bumbling, lazy, Inspector Wyatt. When Wyatt quickly arrests someone, everybody knows he doesn’t have the evidence needed to make a case - and it is probably the wrong person anyway.

Lady Hardcastle, Flo, and Flo’s twin sister (who is visiting) Gwen know they need to investigate on their own, but they have to keep out of Inspector Wyatt’s way. Wyatt has an exaggerated view of his skills and would not appreciate their interference. They use a ruse to gain entry to enter the theater and the company of actors and begin the investigation. Can the murderer be one of the actors? Is it the leader of the troop? What about the director? Then – there is a second murder. Obviously, it is related to the first – but how? Did that victim know something he shouldn’t have?

This is, as always, a highly entertaining, witty read, and I loved every word of it. I can definitely recommend it and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own

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Another excellent entry to the Hardcastle and Armstrong series - this one sees them involved in solving a murder in a theatre. A lot of cosy crime struggles to create plausible reasons for the plucky protagonists to investigate, and certainly many are wafer thin at best. T. E. Kinsey steers well clear of this pitfall each time, which is no mean feat. Although this one was set predominantly in Brizzle, and very little in Littleton Coterell, we do still see a few of the village regulars thanks to a particularly sweet little subplot involving someone stealing booze from the Dog and Duck pub (I know, doesn’t sound sweet at first, but read on and you’ll see). And I loved seeing Flo’s twin sister Gwenith visit and play a sizeable role. More please! (On all counts).

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An Act of Foul Play is the ninth in the warm, clever and delightful Lady Hardcastle Mysteries series. It is 1911 and Lady Emily Hardcastle and her dearest friend and personal maid Flo attend the theatre in Bristol to celebrate Lady Hardcastle's birthday. A very realistic death scene on stage occurs. Paul's acting career is over. Nefarious doings occurred during the interval but thankfully the two friends, also amateur sleuths, were at hand. To add to the heady mix is Flo's twin Gwen who is more than willing to help solve the crime as the list of suspects includes fellow actors...and others. As you can imagine the twin dynamic opens up a plethora of theatrics!

New arresting arrivals include the quirky couple Lady Bickle and Sir Benjamin who add yet another layer to the hijinks. The series is cozy and therefore there is no real tension yet there is no lack of red herrings. The story is also about the characters and their relationships.

Historical Fiction Mystery readers ought to flock to this series, especially if oodles of wit and banter are your wheelhouse.

My sincere thank you to Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for providing me with an early digital copy of this fabulously fun frolic!

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I first read T E Kinsey in 2017 and am now an avid fan, keenly (but impatiently) waiting for each new release, then reading it immediately. I've been delighted to get hold of this a little earlier on this occasion, except that I've now realised the next wait will be a little longer.

'An Act of Foul Play' (AAFP) is the latest and ninth book in the Lady Hardcastle series, and it is an absolute joy. As a Welsh woman living in Gloucestershire, the characters feel like friends; their camaraderie is delightful and hilarious. The physical setting (location) feels authentic and, despite this book being set in 1911, the story never feels far away. The plot is engaging throughout with sufficient twists and foreshadowed clues that you're constantly flip-flopping between simply getting carried away in a great story, and trying to solve the case before you get to the end,

My advice - read them all and enjoy the stories for what they do so exceptionally well. Take an adventure with Flo and Lady H and lose yourself completely in their cosy adventures.

Highly recommended.

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It was 1911 and Lady Emily Hardcastle was at the theatre with friends, celebrating her birthday. Her maid and friend, Flo Armstrong, was there also, and by the beginning of act two, they were involved in murder once again. As the curtain lifted for the start of act two, a body was on the stage - but it wasn't part of the play as the scream from a cast member indicated. With Inspector Sunderland part of Lady Hardcastle's group, he was soon on the stage and with an aside to Emily and Flo, he requested their help in keeping an eye on things...

Back home after the eventful evening, they were surprised by a visitor whom they hadn't expected. Gwenith, Flo's twin sister, had arrived for a visit, and it wasn't long before she was helping the sleuths in the investigation. There were plenty of suspects, and motives for them all - would they find the culprit before the cast and players moved on to their next destination?

An Act of Foul Play is the 9th in the Lady Hardcastle mysteries by T.E. Kinsey and once again I loved it. Fun, entertaining and clever, it was also great to meet Gwenith and see how close the sisters are. I'm looking forward to the next installment very much. Highly recommended.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

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3.75 stars

Another adventure of Lady Hardcastle, aristo and investigator and adventuress, and her friend/investigative partner/erstwhile lady's maid Florence. The setting is pre-World War I England.

The ladies are out for an evening watching a play and having a birthday celebration for Lady H when one of the actors is discovered stabbed to death on stage. Their typical somewhat madcap detecting follows, complicated by their decision to assume aliases during the investigation.

The meat of this series is the banter and solid friendship and history between Flo and Lady H. Always a fun read with some quite competent sleuthing and logical deduction. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This was such a fun murder mystery
I really enjoy the characters of Flo and Lady Hardcastle. I think their relationship is so enjoyable and I love the witty back and forth that they have
This book included Flo’s identical twin which added an extra element of mischief
The mystery was very exciting and I enjoyed trying to work out whodunnit. I do think that once a certain bit of information was revealed, it became really obvious who the baddie was. I would have loved a few more red herrings but that’s me just being picky
This was a fun read and such a quick read
I’ve given it 3 stars but this is really a 3.5
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Ninth in the series and although i normally engross myself in these i just could not with this one,even though all the characters are there and the storyline is good it did just not grip

However this is my opinion and other may thoroughly enjoy

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It's not often that a series is just as enjoyable by book number nine as it was at the beginning. But T.E. Kinsey continues to give us more hilarity from the fabulous sleuthing duo Lady Hardcastle and Florence Armstrong. This time, there's even a guest appearance from Flo's double!

The theater setting of "An Act of Foul Play" felt like a unique glimpse into that time period and provided an interesting cast of characters, to say the least! I look forward to seeing where their tenth adventure takes Lady Hardcastle and Florence Armstrong.

If you enjoy titles set in the early 1900s with theater and a bit of mystery, be sure to check out "In Spotlight and Shadow" by Rachel Scott McDaniel, as well.

Content Warning: More sensitive readers may find a few of the jokes a bit more vulgar than normal for the series.

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I love Lady Hardcastle and Flo Armstrong. Love, love, love them! That said, I think this book ended a little less "spectacularly" than I would have hoped. I think I was a little disappointed because I happened to be reading this book at the same time I was listening to an audiobook by another British mystery author, and the two endings were EERILY SIMILAR. I mean... so similar I felt the need to mention the similarities to my 11-year-old. I HONESTLY wondered if both authors (same genre, same month of release for most if not all of their books) got some kind of challenge that said, "Write a British mystery novel that ends like this." In case you're curious, I read this at the same time as the latest Jim Oldroyd mystery by J. R. Ellis, "The Railway Murders." Had I not listened to the end of Ellis' audiobook earlier that same day, I would probably have found the end of this book to be more satisfying.

What I DID like about this book was the introduction of Flo's twin, Gwen. I thought the author was really clever changing things to include her (e.g. putting Emily's two-seater Rolls Royce in the mechanic's shop and having them use a 'loaner' so Gwen could join them in the car). She was a welcome addition to the "cast."

I want more Lady Hardcastle and Flo.

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Lady Hardcastle and Flo are celebrating Lady Hardcastle with with Lady Bickle who has suggested a play at Duke's Theatre. As the curtains open for the second act, they notice a man lying on his back with a dagger in his chest with convincing blood around it. Of course, Inspector Sunderland asks for Lady H and Flo to help, especially since Inspector Wyatt who is handling the case keeps arresting one of the actors without a good reason. Flo’s twin sister, Gwen, is visiting, and she helps as well. It appears at first that almost anyone can be the killer. The two understudies would love to have the leading parts. When one of the stage hands is found murdered in a room in the basement, they realize he probably saw something during the first murder.

In the middle of all this, at the Dog & Duck, they are told that someone has been pilching booze, usually on Thursday night. Gwen and Flo solve that mystery by dressing alike. The culprit doesn’t realize that Flo has a twin, so they figure how to catch the culprit.

Meanwhile, the theatre killer is more difficult to catch. However, after they realize they’ve got the timeline wrong and at least one of them has lost their alibi! Will they figure it out before someone finishes off one of them?

This is a fun addition to the series.

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In the new book, number nine in the series, we've reached 1911 and our intrepid duo are at the theatre celebrating Lady Hardcastle's birthday when murder victim is discovered on stage at the start of the second half. Of course they're soon investigating and trying to discover what's going on behind the scenes of the theatre company that could have led to murder. I read it across about 24 hours and really enjoyed it - it was just the break from the day to day that I needed this week. I don't think you need to have read the rest of the series to enjoy it, although if you have it will obviously work better for you.

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Hours spent alongside Flo and Lady Hardcastle are never wasted. Once again a murder instigates the sleuthing duo to pull out the crime board and snoop around...this time in a theatre and its troupe. There are a handful of new characters who add humor and new insights to the happenings. Overall, it was a delightful jaunt with two of my favorite fictional characters and I laughed out loud at the best paragraph ever written to explain a person's level of drunkenness.

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An Act of Foul Play takes one of my favorite investigative duos into the world of the theater, and although the pacing of the story dragged a bit from time to time, it was still a treat to watch Lady Hardcastle and Florence Armstrong work their usual magic. This time, readers also make the acquaintance of Flo's twin sister, Gwenith, and she made an entertaining addition to the witty repartee.
Hardcastle and Armstrong make short work of the bumblings of Inspector Wyatt while Gwenith proves to be an important part of the solution to the mystery of who's stealing booze from the local pub, the Dog and Duck. 
As this series has progressed, author T.E. Kinsey has not only charmed me with his characters and their wonderful dialogue, he's given me glimpses into various aspects of English life in the 1910s. This is a series that never fails to put a smile on my face, and I've even added a word to my vocabulary after reading An Act of Foul Play. I would imagine that most of us titivate ourselves before leaving the house to go to work or shopping. I just didn't know that that was what I was doing.

Anyone who enjoys light-hearted historical mysteries really needs to make the acquaintance of Lady Hardcastle and her "lady's maid, part-time spy and full-time nosy parker," Florence Armstrong. I wouldn't dream of missing any of their adventures.

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Of course Lady Hardcastle and Flo don't cause strange things to happen around them but somehow they are again caught up in a murder. This time, it's Lady Hardcastle's birthday (44th) and they are attending the theater with a large group and enjoying themselves quite thoroughly. But, after a long intermission, the curtain rises on the second act but one of the four actors on the stage is dead, stabbed. It seems like only the other actors would have had the chance to do the deed.
They are joined in this adventure by Flo's twin sister who is taking a vacation while her husband is out of town for the army. It was nice to have a new face in the adventures and to see Flo and Lady Hardcastle work with someone who wasn't the Inspector.

Four stars
This book comes out June 7, 2022
Follows Rotten to the Core
ARC kindly provided Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley
Opinions are my own

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Many thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review “An Act of Foul Play.” All opinions and comments are my own.

Lady Hardcastle’s birthday celebration -- a night at the theatre in Bristol, no Littleton-Cotterell this time -- is interrupted by a murder onstage. Luckily, Inspector Sunderland is in the theatre party and able to begin the investigation chop chop. Handy, that. And Lady H and her “tiny servant” won’t be far behind in “An Act of Foul Play,” the ninth in the long-running historical mystery series by T.E. Kinsey.

Count on banter being the order of the day, too, in between our daring duo figuring out who had it in for thespian Paul Singleton. They’ve got help this time -- Flo’s twin sister Gwenith Evans has come for a little visit. If you don’t think this will figure in the plot, you deserve to turn in your mystery- book-reading card.

There’s initial sleuthing to be done, undercover as it were, where they get all sorts of ideas and find out about jealousy and whatnot in the ranks. A member of the company gets arrested, but Lady H and Flo know there’s more detecting (and more witty banter) to be had. Oh, and as a side note, somebody’s stealing from the local pub. They agree to look into this, too. With satisfactory results, of course. Author Kinsey makes sure that no turn is unstoned and all that.

Then, a stagehand is murdered. First thought -- a blackmailer? I’ve been reading murder mysteries far too long. Our author understands -- blackmail it is. But of course, there’s always more to the story, and readers are kept working alongside Lady H and her handy helper Flo (with sister Gwen’s assistance) to ferret out more reasons for why Paul Singleton had to be eliminated. As always, clues abound between all that the ladies discuss in their own inimitable fashion, so pay attention!

And then we get the big twist -- such fun. Lady H explains How It Was All Done. Now she just needs to get the guilty one to ‘fess up. A trap is set, and Flo is in at the rather exciting finish. Another very satisfactory finish.

An Author’s Note explains more about the making of the story, the setting, and other inclusions. It’s enlightening and definitely gives you a feel for the theatre setting. “An Act of Foul Play” sees Lady Hardcastle and Flo back once again at the top of their game, ensuring that no one gets away with murder.

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I found this interesting, and the mystery kept me guessing. I liked the characters and hope to read more in the series.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review

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An Act of Foul Play is Tim Kinsey’s latest Lady Hardcastle Mystery. Lady Emily Hardcastle and her maid, Florence Armstrong are celebrating Emily’s birthday with a trip to the theatre. Unfortunately, when the play restarts after the interval, there’s a real body on the stage. Inspector Sunderland’s not convinced that Inspector Wyatt, who’s been assigned to the case, is competent and so he asks Emily and Flo to find out what happened.

The book is a delight. It proceeds at a cracking pace with lots of lovely red herrings. No, I hadn’t worked out whodunnit, but I had a great time building theories and then seeing them dissipate into thin air a few pages later. The best part of Kinsey’s books (apart from the bits where Flo uses her ju-jitsu or deadly knife-throwing skills on large villains, obviously) is the banter between Emily and Flo. However, I now have a new favourite part: the banter between Flo and Gwen. Who’s Gwen? You’ll have to read the book to find out but here’s a clue: she’s Welsh, just like Flo. Sometimes, when I’m reading the Lady Hardcastle books, I just hug myself with delight. What larks, Pip!

#AnActofFoulPlay #NetGalley

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Good read, so very witty. I constantly wish, I too, could be part of their circle. This mystery had plenty of twists and red herrings to keep me in my toes and it was fun to have a visit from the sis.

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A wonderfully light-hearted cosy mystery. I loved the interactions between Miss Armstrong and Lady Hardcastle. Along with the supporting cast of friends, the dynamic duo set out to solve that murder of a thespian which happened during the interval of a play that they were watching.
It was the first time I came across this author and I am definitely watching out for more of Kinsey's work.

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TE Kinsey gives us Flo and Lady Hardcastle fans a straight banger in this theater troop-based mystery - I hope we see much more of Georgie and Gwen in the future. While we don't dwell, I mean that's not totally the point of these books, on the practicalities of the murder (especially the second one) I didn't feel bamboozled by the solution even if some of the meaningful clues are a skoosh too lucky for my taste. The author definitely makes the reader want to visit Bristol, Crane's, and Le Quai and, if I could make a suggestion, I wouldn't mind a little more description of foods, clothing, etc. I feel like there was more of these types of details in the earlier books, which I enjoyed, and I think those kind of descriptions are a particular strength of the author. It's clear that the research is being done so why not flaunt it? A strong recommend.

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The latest (9th) book in the Lady Hardcastle mystery series featuring Lady Emily Hardcastle and her maid and trusted sidekick Florence "Flo" Armstrong. Characters with a past largely hinted at and they are clearly not to be messed with. Now retired to a quiet village Littleton Cottrell they have taken to sleuthing and helping the police and in particular particulat Inspector Suderland.

in this book the ladies are watching a comedy play by The Bartlett Players at a theatre in Bristol but when the curtain rises on the second act an actor Paul Singleton is found dead on the stage with a knife in his back. Also at the theatre is Inspector Sunderland who carries out the initial analysis of the crime scene but is moved on to another crime leaving a lazy fumbling Inspecror Wyatt to . Lady Bickle a friend of the theatre company and Lady Hardcastle asks lady Hardcastle to help the investigation and Sunderland also asks the ladies to investigate too. A further murder takes place in a downstairs props room almost a week later.

The murder is clearly a member of the cast and crew. This makes for yet another amusing yarn. A cozy mystery series that gets better with each book. I highly recommend this book. This can be read in isolation. However, I would recommend the reader read the whose series as there are wonderful ongoing characters not to be missed.

Thasks to Netgalley UK and Amazon Publishing UK for an ARC copy in exchange for a fair unbiased review.

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Lady Hardcastle mysteries are always compelling, witty, solid, and highly entertaing. A solid and well developed mystery that kept me guessing, lots of humour.
I was happy to catch up with the fleshed out characters
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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I suppose it's impossible to hit 9 homeruns in a row....
I still adore this author and this series, but I found this latest entry to be a little flat. The convoluted circumstances leading Emily and Flo to take on this latest mystery were a bit of a stretch. A couple leads or minor storylines were ignored. The ratatat banter felt a little stale. And I realize the limits of first person storytelling means that we can only get the perspective of the narrator, and sometimes another POV is necessary, but I thought the way the author chose to tell the story near the end of the book (with multiple POVs) was clumsy and jarring and really broke up the narrative for me. These books have never been presented (as far as I can remember) as Flo talking to the reader, or writing a journal to be read by someone later on, but all of a sudden, that's what happened because that was the only way to describe the events towards the end. It felt clunky, and a very rare miss.

Things I do appreciate in every book: the author is so skillful at reminding us who all the characters are, without making us feel like he is. It's a valuable tool in a mystery, since they usually have a pretty large cast of characters. Also, I love the author's note at the end of every book. I read every word of it and appreciate all the detail and research!

My thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC via netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Having thoroughly enjoyed all of the books in the Lady Hardcastle series so far, I knew that An Act of Foul Play would be a great read. I adore Lady Hardcastle and Flo Armstrong’s characters, their relationship and the comedic dialogue they throw at each other, but I found this plot a little uninspiring compared to past storylines and it seemed a long, slow wind up that led to a very short, albeit satisfying, conclusion.

I think that as a standalone book, it leaves a lot unexplained and you really don’t get to experience the full joy of our protagonists’ relationship, so I would highly recommend that readers start from book 1. You will be in for a real treat if you like quirky Miss Marple-esque mysteries with plenty of humour. 4.5*

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy in return for an honest review.

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Once again T. E. Kinsey presents a lovely book with the couple Lady Emily Hardcastle and her maid/companion Florence Armstrong. This time the murder happens at a theatre in Bristol and the inquiries are for too long a time conducted by an incompetent detective till Emily, Flo and her twin sister Gwen take over. We meet the characters at the theatre and a new friend of Lady Hardcastle.
I enjoy these mysteries, the different characters, the banter between the two lady detectives, English life and the surrounding people in town. Of course the mystery is in the background, as usual in cosy mysteries, but the rest of the story is enjoyable. I thought the fun was sometimes spilling over to excessive quirkiness, and I would also have liked more clues to the mystery. All in all a nice read again.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an arc ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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An Act of Foul Play by T.E. Kinsey
A very enjoyable addition to a cheery, charming series. The ladies use their acting skills to wangle their way into a theater group and solve a murder. Plus, we get to meet Flo’s twin sister!

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I thoroughly enjoyed another book following along with Lady Hardcastle, Flo and another murder they solved. I enjoyed the adding of Flo's twin sister and reading about their stories, as children and the tricks that they played on family and friends.
Once I started reading, I found the book hard to put down. These stories are so entertaining and enjoyable and the characters come alive like old friends.

Another wonderful read by author T E Kinsey.

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An Act of Foul Play is my second read in this series featuring Lady Emily Hardcastle and her confidante and maid, Flo Armstrong, by author T E Kinsey. Set in 1911, Lady Cotterill is in Bristol, England at the theatre. I really enjoyed the witty repartee and humour between the main characters and I appreciated the roles of many of the supporting characters, too, including Flo's twin sister, Gwen. An exciting finish rounds things off very nicely. I will definitely be reading more from this series. Well worth a look.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Amazon Publishing UK via NetGalley and this review is my unbiased opinion.

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After binging the previous 8.5 books in the series, I was really happy to get my hands on an eARC of the ninth installment in the Lady Hardcastle Mysteries series.

Lady Hardcastle celebrates her birthday with a trip to the theatre, accompanied by a few friends and her loyal maid Florence. Of course that means someone dies. An actor is murdered on stage during the interval. Lady Hardcastle and Flo get caught up investigating the murder and tracking down the culprit.

We get two Flos for the price of one in this book, since Flo's identical twin sister Gwenith surprises them with a visit. Which inevitably leads to plenty of high jinks.

As always, this latest installment in the series is filled with an entertaining mystery, plenty of red herrings, intriguing guest characters, and lots of humour. I don't think I'll ever get tired of this cosy mystery series.

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Another outing for the crime busting duo Lady Hardcastle and her maid Flo, this time ably assisted by Flo’s twin sister.

During a night at the local theatre while the duo are enjoying the comedy play, one of the actors is murdered during the interval. Sleuthing is in order and the pair, in disguise as potential theatre owners, take to questioning the theatre company while taking time also to enjoy much tea and cake.

The characters are really well described and easy to conjure. This historical cozy mystery series being set among the pre votes for women era, which is discussed by the ladies.

Good as a standalone but better once the previous books have been enjoyed to ensure you have a good knowledge of the players.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I love this series and especially the close relationship between the key characters, Lady Hardcastle and Flo. In this episode, we get to meet Flo's twin and it certainly sets up a new dynamic and adds a further dimension to the story! The dialogue and humour are such a key part of this lovely cozy mystery series.

The theatrical context didn't quite do it for me and this time I cottoned on to a couple of the key aspects of the story, but it's still a goodie to read, So yet again it's FOUR out of five for me. I look forward to reading the next in this whodunnit, fun series.

With thanks to #Netgalley, Amazon Publishing UK and the author for my Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Our two lovely leading ladies are back at it in the next of this wonderful series from T. E. Kinsey. In “An Act of Foul Play” Flo, Lady Hardcastle, and their friends have their entertaining evening out at the theatre disturbed when one of the actors dies, on stage!

Determined to leave it to the police force, they attempt to stay out of it but soon are invited to share their thoughts and in no time at all, they are in the midst of another twisty mystery. Infiltrating the cast, Flo and Lady H work undercover to find the killer and uncover the motive before more people get hurt! Is anyone who they seem to be?

The conversations and characters make this series and this one is no different! The writing is delightful! If you enjoy cosy mysteries, this is one to read! It’s a four out of five on the enJOYment scale (I unravelled a few too many of the answers before they were revealed) and look forward to the next one!

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I really enjoy this series and whilst I havent read all the books have read enough that I liked seeing the recurring characters. If you hadn't read the others however I dont think it would detract from the book.

A cosy, quick read with fun likable characters.

Thank you for the arc.

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