A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox, Bk 1)
A Beautiful Blue Death - Charles Lenox, Bk 1 Author:Charles Finch London, 1865. On a gray evening late in autumn, amateur detective Charles Lenox's closest friend needs help. A former servant of her house, Prudence Smith, is beautiful, a flirt, and dead. Was it an accident? A suicide? Or does the pile of gold in the house have something to do with it? As Lenox begins to uncover the truth another body falls... more » at the most fashionable ball at the season, and the chase is on before the killer strikes again...dangerously close to home.« less
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First in what is hopefully a continuing series featuring Charles Lennox, a Victoria gentleman, who has solved crimes that Scotland Yard seems to take credit for. Set in England 1865, Lenox is called by his next door neighbor and childhood friend Lady Jane Grey when Prudence Smith, Greys former employee, is found dead in the home of her new employer. Things just dont add up in Janes mind, but Charles can figure it out, hes clever that way.
Since Pru was found in the home of George Barnard, the current director of the Royal Mint, with a secret of his own; Lennoxs instincts are set in high gear and a wonderful who-done-it-and-why leads the reader on a brilliant journey.
A great cast of characters that leave you smirking and curious, making this an interesting addition to the Historical Fiction genre.
But the best part -- this book seems to start in the middle of the whole Charles Lennox experience with references to the past that makes you wonder exactly where Lennox came from and where Finch is going to take him. Will more of the past be explained or will Finch just leave that up to the readers imagination.
If you are looking for a well written mystery novel, do not bother with this one. The characters are one dimensional and the plot is poor. It reminds me of writings from a high school senior-who THINKS he is writing something clever. If Mr. Finch spent as much time on creating well written characters as he does on describing afternoon tea (which he seems to do in every chapter) this would be worth a read. One of the biggest faults of this novel is that his characters all speak as if they lived in the present time here in the USA and not in 1865 London. I would recommend that Mr. Finch should read a few historical mystery novels before attempting to write another one. Disappointing, and a waste of time. 1.5 stars.
Charles Lenox is very similar to two of my favorite gentlemen detectives--Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Thankfully, he is not as arrogant as Holmes. Rather than a Watson or a Hastings, Lenox has a slew of sluething partners. Several of whom are sure to reappear in future books--Lady Jane Grey, his butler and friend Graham, his brother and MP Edmund, and his friend and nonpracticing physician Thomas McConnell. My favorite characters are McConnell and his high-society wife Toto. They remind me of Nick and Nora of Thin Man fame.
Finch provides nearly all the clues to solving this mystery on your own. I got it wrong. I confess that the person I thought was guilty was, but not of the crime I suspected him of. But unlike some authors who deliberately lead you away from the solution, Finch simply provided no more and no less emphasis to the real clues as to the red herrings. I like an author who isn't sneaky.
I happily stumbled on a copy of this book while browsing at our local B&N. Five chapters in, I raced back to get his second book, The September Society, only to discover that there is also a third book, The Fleet Street Murders, available. This fan of Victorian-era mysteries shall be happily immersed in the world of Charles Lenox for a couple of weeks.
i found the book entertaining, but didn't really stop to analyze the writing style, dialogue and other elements, as previous readers. I read more to entertain myself. I enjoyed the story, the historical references, and the setting. Very engaging, but not a fast-paced novel. I also enjoyed his second book, though it got a bit confusing at times. Give it a try, as it's better than a lot of the cozy mysteries, but may not be as good as the classic mysteries.
I've been looking for a good English mystery and was hoping this was the beginning of a worthy series. I'll keep looking.
The setting was done very well and was the best part of the book. The characters seemed one dimensional, none had any real deapth, or a compelling back story to interest the reader. The dialog was confusing at times, and did not make sense to me. At first I thought it was the way of speaking in that time period, but I've read historicals many times and this just seemed off. And finally, the author seemed to have a hard time keeping focused; there were too many digressions. But I think my main objection is the lack of connection I felt to any of the characters.
I understand this is Mr. Finch's first book, and am more than willing to read the next one or even two in the hopes he progresses as an author.
There should not be a separate standard of excellence for historical fiction, and yet I often find that books set in the past may excel at period detail while failing as literary ventures. I've read two of the Charles Lenox series and think I will read no more. They have a workmanlike quality to them - adequate details of time and place, language and material culture - but they lack vigor, naturalism, and immediacy. A lady's dress is described as "blue"; good as far as it goes but where are the rustle of taffeta skirts, the sheen of bombazine, the felted nap of velvet? Hair? It's brown and curls a bit. Hands? Small, warm. By the middle of A Beautiful Blue Death I was longing for freckles, a frayed hem, a bit of lace torn loose from a petticoat and dragging on the ground. What I would have given for a broken nose, bleeding copiously onto a lace jabot! Chipped fingernails, and one that was habitually bitten! For most readers, the shallow waters of Charles Finch's series may be enough. But considering the depth of the author's erudition, I'd like to see more.