Title: A Beautiful Blue Death
Author: Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox, #1
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Date: June 26, 2007
On any given day in London, all Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, wants to do is relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist another chance to unravel a mystery, even if it means trudging through the snow to her townhouse next door.
One of Jane’s former servants, Prudence Smith, is dead — an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prudence dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by an elusive lack of motive in the girl’s death.
When another body turns up during the London season’s most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence? Or was it something else entirely, something that Lenox alone can uncover before the killer strikes again — disturbingly close to home?
What to say? What to say? I almost didn’t finish this book. If I had not made a commitment to review it, I probably would have quit a hundred pages in.
And that would have been a mistake.
It’s one of those books that grows on you. It is slow moving, but not slow if that makes sense. The story takes time to build. It is a murder mystery, of course, although there is a touch of a relationship developing. It is far more concerned with friendships than romance and that is a nice change of pace.
Twice, I figured out who the murderer was and I was wrong both times. That, to me, is a sign of a good mystery. When the crime was finally solved, I never saw it coming. Again, a good sign.
So why did I almost give up on this book?
I think Charles Lenox is misrepresented. He comes across as a 60+ old man with a querulous nature who only wants the comforts of home. He’s an armchair traveler who never quite actually goes anywhere, no matter how much planning he does in arranging trips.
I like him. He has a Sherlockian mind and, like Sherlock, helps Scotland Yard with crimes they cannot solve . . . whether they want him to or not.
But he does not come across as forty.
And that’s my only criticism of the book. Charles Lenox is just not believable in the way he is portrayed.
I liked the book, but I didn’t love it. I’m glad I finished it because it really was a good mystery. I’m tempted to read the rest of the series (there are nine of them so far), but I don’t feel compelled to jump into the next one.
Again, what to say? What to say?
This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.