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Kempston Hardwick Mysteries Books In Order

Publication Order of Kempston Hardwick Mysteries Books

Exit Stage Left (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Westerlea House Mystery (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death Under the Sun (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Thirteenth Room (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

The Kempston Hardwick Mysteries is a series of novels by Adam Croft, an American author who made himself popular with his first debut novel, Her Last Tomorrow. The first of the novels was published in 2010, which was followed, by three other titles and box set comprising the first three books in 2015. Croft asserts that writers such as Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Sarah Winman’s have been great influences on his writing style for the Kempston novels. The Chief protagonist in the novel is Kempston Hardwick, who works with his close friend and sidekick Ellis Flint, in cracking mysterious murder mysteries. Unlike in his other crime thriller series, the chief protagonist in the novels and his sidekick are not police detectives. The two amateur sleuths do not have anything to do with law enforcement except for boundless passion to find justice. The series fits best in the cozy mystery genre, though they have more of a humorous twist to them than the usual cozy mystery. The Mysteries are some kind of parody, or if you like an unconventional take on the conventional detective/crime fiction novel, made popular by Agatha Christie. As such, it may be argued that the novels have something of a tongue in cheek approach, while also delving a bit into the realm of the psychological thriller in the latter books.

The Kempston Hardwick Mystery series of novels have been one of the most popular novels ever published by an independent author. The books have been published in a variety of formats with Exit Stage Left adapted into an audio play that starred British TV’s biggest names. Exit Stage Left, the first novel in the series came out in 2010, and the popularity of the series continued to rise with each subsequent release. Overall, the novels are less gritty and less violent since they lean more towards being mysteries rather than criminal narratives. Although more challenging to write, Adam Croft employs his characteristic humor and characterization to write quite a gripping series of narratives that will tug at the heart of any cozy mystery writer. Croft asserts that he got most of his ideas for the plots and hooks of the Hardwick Mystery series from observing people. In a manner similar to King’s horror novels, these novels casts its characters as ordinary people in everyday normal life before something catastrophic, bizarre or weird happens. As such the novels characters and victims of the mysterious murders are ordinary persons such as partygoers, a married man, a TV psychic, and a washed out prime time television personality.

Kempston (Daws) Hardwick and his friend Ellis Flint are two adventurers who happen to stumble on the mysterious deaths of ordinary people that they proceed to investigate. What makes Kempston an even more interesting character is that he is involved in high profile murder cases that the police are either reluctant to investigate or have declared non-homicides. Another thing to take into account is the fact that Hardwick and Flint do their sleuthing by impersonating two police officers. Hardwick likes to outwit the police who he believes are a nuisance that only serve to hamper his investigations. Given that Hardwick’s first three initials spell DCI, posing as police officers is not that hard. Moreover, even as he tells people that he is DCI Hardwick, he is not legally liable for impersonation, as that is actually what he is. Croft is the expert at this kind of whimsical humor, which is evident throughout the series. The lead character is portrayed as a person with a deep understanding of human psychology with a civilized touch. With a gift that can only be compared to that of Sherlock Holmes, Kempston Hardwick possesses outstanding powers of observation as a simple glance at a person will be enough for him to gather a lot of data about a person’s character and their history. The sidekick Ellis is kind of an unwilling though stoical man who will risk his very own life to solve a mystery, particularly when he teams up with the adventurous Hardwick. The stories go through innumerable turns and twists to uncover the ultimate murder, and as is often the case with Croft, it is someone that you would never suspect.

The first novel, Exit Stage Left is one of the most popular in the Kempston Hardwick Mysteries. Charlie Sparks is a washed up comedian who has arrived at a local pub in the Midlands to host a one-night stand comedy performance. Formally a prime time TV celebrity, he has seen his star dim, as he has been unable to move away from his outdated style, ultimately getting kicked out of his television career. Now relegated to the scrapheap, not many people in the pub expect much in the form of entertainment from him. However, things get interesting when in the middle of telling his outdated jokes, he suddenly becomes sluggish and has to abandon the performance and head back to the dressing room. He soon collapses and in a few minutes is declared dead, from an unexplained cause. Enter the inscrutable bystander Kempston Hardwick, who is determined to get to the bottom of this most bizarre of deaths. As he sets out to investigate the puzzling case, he quickly finds out that the death of the comedian poses more questions than answers.

Another popular novel in the Kempston Hardwick Mysteries is the second novel, The Westerlea House Mystery. As usual, Adam Croft has an ordinary person, a TV psychic Oscar Whitehouse as the victim in this novel. Now quite famous in the city after their exploits in the first case, Kempston Hardwick and sidekick Ellis Flint are the first persons called in to investigate when Oscar Whitehouse is found dead inside his hotel room. The plot thickens when barely a week later; another person is discovered dead in Tollinghill a small village nearby. It gets even more weird when a local resident sensationally claims that Oscar Whitehouse who has already been declared dead had been on the scene of the homicide. Flint and Hardwick come to the realization that what they have on their hands is not the run of the mill traditional mystery. With such a confounding turn of events, they need to find answers fast and uncover the mystery of the Tollinghill killings before it happens again.

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