The Body in the Boat is the final book in the Hardcastle and Chaytor mystery series from A. J. McKenzie; the pen name of writing duo and husband and wife team Marilyn Livingstone and Morgan Witzel. The book opens with Reverend Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor attending a birthday party thrown by Mr Munro; a respected local banker for his wife. Just days later Mr. Munro is found dead. Of course the Reverend in his position as magistrate must investigate and as always he is assisted by the very capable and unflappable Mrs Chaytor. The mystery involves links to a band of local smugglers as well as rumours that the East Weald and Ashford Bank where Mr. Munro was a partner might be in trouble. This is an intriguing mystery with plenty of twists and turns. The series takes place at the end of the 18th Century during a period of almost constant conflict with France, as well as fears of French invasion. While the Reverend Hardcastle and Mrs. Chaytor may be firm members of the middle class their investigations take them to a wide variety of places and because of this the authors are able to paint a broad picture of Georgain life. There is a wonderful cast of characters from the Reverend's novel writing sister Calpurnia to the laudanum addicted business woman Mrs Redcliffe to the fishermen, smugglers and thugs and the local gentry protected in their grand houses. The Kent landscape is beautifully described and I felt the writing really brought the historical and rural setting to life. This is a thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery. If you have yet to discover this series I highly recommend it particularly for fans of Antonia Hodgson, Andrew Hughes or Andrew Taylor.
The Body in the Boat is available in paperback from today published by Bonnier Books UK. Thanks to Ellen Turner for a copy. Bonnier Books are also providing one copy to give away to readers of this blog.
To enter simply contact me on twitter @LisaReadsBooks and tell me the name of Reverend Hardcastle's sister. This giveaway is UK and Ireland only.