I loved this early aviation mystery….
I’ve been noticing the books in the Lady Hardcastle series, by TE Kinsey, for quite a while, both because I like historical mysteries, and because I like the covers. Sorry – I do know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but – there it is, I did!
I’ve been afraid, though, that the books might be a little too cozy for me, and I’ve never gotten around to reading any. So I was quite happy to be offered an advance reading copy of The Fatal Flying Affair to review. And I surprised myself by loving it.
Starting with the seventh book in a series might not usually be the greatest choice, but for me, this book in this series was the probably the right one. I’ve worked in the aviation industry much of my life, and have read a fair amount about the early days of flying, so I loved all the little tidbits about flying. And I was lucky enough once when young to get a ride in an early WWI observation plane, quite similar to the Bristol Aviation Dunnock, so I had a lot of fun recognizing many of its features. Imagine going 50 mph ! Or having to talk through a tube to your co-pilot behind you !! Or having the front and back controls linked on the same set of control wires !!! And when author Kinsey had Lady Hardcastle give a pretty good layman’s explanation of why airplanes take off into the wind (see page 68), I was hooked. It was also a lot of fun to think about the development of parachutes as safety equipment (not a spoiler – it’s quite near the beginning), and to think about the new aviation business opportunity opened up at the end of the book, which could be a spoiler, since it’s near the end, so you’ll have to read it for yourself.
(As an aside, I think readers will enjoy the aviation trivia, mixed with the small village setting, mixed with the pre-WWI skullduggery, even if they aren’t quite as nuts about aviation as I am. And the author provides a lot of background, so starting with the seventh book wasn’t much of an issue either.)
I also really enjoyed the plot, which had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing. I liked the characters, and the ways they interacted with each other, and the dry wit many of them exhibited. And, after I had spent half the night reading the book, there was a nice long historical note at the end. My only (minor) beef with the story was the way the original death in the book, the one that kicked off the case, turned out, which made me kind of sad. But that wasn’t enough to spoil the book for me.
Let’s see: story – ✔, characters – ✔, background – ✔, historical note – ✔. So, although I don’t give many books a five-star review, The Fatal Flying Affair gets one. And my thanks to NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer for the review copy. Now, I’m going to go back and start at the beginning of the series, and read them all.
Publisher: Pegasus Books