3+ starsThese books are good, in that they're fun little cozy mysteries that are consistently well told tales with English countryside characters that include both gentry and the common folk. But the "spice", if you will, is that they always include real persons from the time - a slice of history, if you will.In this book, we meet Rolls and Royce, who do eventually create the Rolls-Royce. The book is all about how automobiles affected England at the turn of the century. Most folks were up-in-arms at the noise, the mess, and the speed - not to mention how easily the things crashed due to difficult steering and narrow-lane roads.Sir Charles and Lady Katherine are practically bullied into hosting the Spring Fete, which will feature a balloon-car chase: a hot air balloon will play the "hare" with 4 different types of cars playing the fox - a steam car, an electric car, and two gasoline cars. Bradford Marsden, their neighbor, has begged Charles and Kate to host the event - a favor he owes (with other debts) to a Mr. Dunstable. Dunstable is the pseudonym for Harry Lawson, the con man who tried to take over the British motorcar business, and then brought it to its knees because of his greed and overselling shares.All of the race car drivers, Mr. Dunstable, and Bradford are at each others' throats for one reason or another. So the day of the race, when one of the cars is lost, then turns up crashed with it's driver at death's door, no one is too surprised. But was the crash due to driver error or something worse?Throw in Bradford's youngest sister Patsy's infatuation with the brash Charlie Rolls, and her promised suitor's ire (the squire Roger Thornton), and you have quite the knot for Sir Charles and Lady Katherine to unravel.