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Exit Stage Left (Kempston Hardwick Mysteries Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Adam Croft
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

*** For a limited time, you can get TWO short stories, including an exclusive Kempston Hardwick story for free — click here to find out more > (just copy and paste into your browser) ***

Charlie Sparks brought a whole new meaning to dying on stage...

Charlie Sparks had it all. A former primetime television personality, his outdated style has seen him relegated to the scrapheap.

When he collapses and dies during a stand-up routine at a local pub, mysterious bystander Kempston Hardwick is compelled to investigate his suspicious death.

As Hardwick begins to unravel the mystery, he quickly comes to realise that Charlie Sparks's death throws up more peculiar questions than answers.

The first Kempston Hardwick mystery

Exit Stage Left has been adapted as a radio play, starring Robert Daws (The Royal, Jeeves & Wooster, Outside Edge), Emily Atack (The Inbetweeners) and Ted Robbins (Phoenix Nights, Little Britain).

"Adam Croft is one of the best new writers in Britain." - Stephen Leather

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Adam Croft is the three-times best-selling author of the Knight & Culverhouse crime thrillers and the Kempston Hardwick mysteries.

Product Details

  • File Size: 354 KB
  • Print Length: 126 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Circlehouse; 1 edition (December 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006LN8FYS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,409 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly done December 17, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I have read and enjoyed Adam Croft's Knight & Culverhouse books - Too Close For Comfort (Knight & Culverhouse) and Guilty as Sin so was intrigued when I noticed Exit Stage Left with a different protagonist in the form of Kempston Hardwick.

We are initially introduced to Kempston in a pub, the Freemason's Arms, where he strikes up a conversation with Ellis Flint. Charlie Sparks, a has been celebrity who at the height of his fame performed at Royal Variety performances, is scheduled to do a live show at the pub that evening.

Kempston is an amateur detective and an alliance is quickly formed with Flint as a sidekick as they become involved in investigating the sudden death of Sparks at the start of his performance.

This novella can comfortably be read in a couple of hours and I read it in an afternoon.

Adam Croft has an excellent writing style, which is becoming more and more refined with each publication - not that it was deficient, it's more his skills are being enhanced with every story!

It is certainly an easy read and it wasn't until I'd almost reached the end - 93 per cent through the story to be exact! - that I had a light bulb moment and worked out exactly how the murder had been committed.

A very clever piece of writing!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscent of the early Sherlock Holmes stories November 16, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not a bad read for a night when there is nothing good on TV. The plot is very thin and the story telling sparse; reminded me of when I first started reading the Sherlock Holmes books. For all their fame I was surprised the actual stories were quite shallow--the same could be said for this book.

What bothered me about the plot the most was that the main character kept saying the victim was murdered with tetanus and implying it was something the guy drank. Tetanus toxin is formed by a bacteria which can only live in an environment where there is no oxygen--such as a puncture wound in your foot with an object contaminated with the spore of the bacterium (which is common in our environment). Why would a pharmaceutical company have tetanus toxin on hand? It has no medical use and the vaccine is made from toxin that has been treated so it is no longer toxic. Suddenly at the end the poison was referred to as strychnine which has no relationship to tetanus. What a silly mistake for an "experienced" crime writer to make.

I would be interested to see how these characters develop but would hope for a story with a little more meat on the bones.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I want to know more July 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Story about two amateur sleuths who witness an unexplained death in a pub and solve the murder. But why?

I can buy the Ellis Flint character taking part in the investigation, in spite of police opposition, to alleviate the boredom of his retirement, but the motivations of Kempton Hardwick remain a mystery to the reader. Where does his passionate commitment to justice come from? Why did he feel compelled to act? There are mysterious clues, but I was no nearer to finding out by the end.

A nice little tale that grew on me as I read it, but I would have enjoyed it more if the suspects' characters had been more rounded. Very neat as a Sherlock Holmes style puzzle, but it was difficult to empathise with the main protagonists without knowing more about them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DEVELOPING A NEW PAIR OF BRITISH SLEUTHS June 24, 2012
By Texanne
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To me the most obvious part of this book, is the fact the author is developing a new pair of sleuths. So, there is a lot of explanation going on.

The 2 main characters meet in a pub and watch as a has-been comedian dies in front of an audience. From the death on, it seems inevitable that the 2 will become a team.

I think it will be interesting to see how the 2 men develop, not only as detectives but also in their relationship with one another. The story was well written. The plot is interesting and not exactly blatant in the "who dunit" part of the story. I would hope that the next book, if there is one, will have a little more story development. And I hope he will make the characters other than the 2 main characters a little more interesting and likable. I would recommend the book to anyone who likes British cozies, and anyone who enjoys a very English atmosphere to their story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring October 18, 2013
By M. Y-Ks
Format:Kindle Edition
Nothing great about the book. Writing is boring, plot is boring, the characters are also boring. I think Croft jumped a bit too fast on too many aspects and sort of lost the plot. Only good thing - the book was mercifully short.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad November 5, 2014
By Mary L
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am not a fan of Doyle's style of writing and this is much the same. Our hero is rather annoyingly superior, but he does of course solve the crime.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kempston Hardwick must have met Sherlock Holmes October 12, 2012
From the start Kempston Hardwick is the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes. His new friend Ellis Flint is his "Watson". What great new characters Adam Croft has created. I felt right at home and enjoyed his excellent "intellectual" exercise. I will be looking for his next case. Congratulations Adam Croft!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing investigators October 24, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
and crafty culprits. A quick but well-written mystery with a sleuth more mysterious than Holmes and an even more invisible Watson. Will definitely read Croft's other books.
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