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.
Sharon (Catspaw) reviewed A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 3
What a great book! It captures the flavor of early Victorian London; the locale, the meals, the weather and the nuanced texture of the social interactions. Its a thoughtful, subtle and well crafted book. One that needs to be read slowly to catch the nuances.
The protagonist, Lenox, is a man of some means and many interests, who occasionally engages in detective work. As someone else mentioned, he definitely reminds of Holmes as he puts the clues together, and addresses issues in his personal life. The mystery had some satisfying and unexpected twists and turns, with a great whodunit ending. The author also provided a couple of chapters at the end to address the whatever became of..? questions, rather than the far more common Big reveal. The end.
A word of warning: If you're looking for soap opera drama, pornography, explosions, car chases, histrionics, gore and pistols at dawn, this isn't the book for you.
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.
I liked this book. I thought it was entertaining and the book's primary character, Charles Lenox, is likeable. I liked picturing the story taking place in Victorian England and it was interesting to see how the detectives were going to solve the mystery during that time without the technological advances that detectives can rely upon today.
The detective hero of this book, Charles Lenox, is a Victorian gentleman who solves crimes as a hobby. With his love for tea and toast and a good warm fire, he seems more like a hobbit than a man. I also didn't find his friendship with Lady Jane very convincing; he seemed rather lukewarm about it all though it is supposed to develop into something warmer over the course of the series. However the story itself is interesting and readable, if a bit slow here and there. People who like 'cozies' might like this one.
Charles Finch's first mystery to feature Charles Lenox moves a bit slowly from time to time, and the information he shares about such subjects as London gentlemen's clubs in the 1860s could be woven more smoothly into the narrative, but the positives far outweigh these two negatives.
A Beautiful Blue Death is filled to the rafters with memorable characters. Charles Lenox-- even if he's the "leftover" son and not heir to his family's title-- is a true gentleman in both his beliefs and in his dealings with people from all walks of life. In fact he believes so passionately in improving the lives of the poorer classes that he is thinking of becoming a member of Parliament. He's such a "good guy" that quite a varied lineup of people are willing to help him in his investigations.
One of the people who helps him most is his faithful butler, Graham. Graham not only keeps Lenox's household running smoothly, he's more than willing to do anything Lenox may require during these cases. Equally willing is Lenox's friend McConnell, a slightly disgraced doctor who comes in very handy for medical advice and telling post-mortem details.
Last but not least is Lenox's dear friend, the widowed Lady Jane. Lady Jane's husband died quite some time ago, and she's had offers, but she's discovered that she enjoys the freedom to be herself that widowhood allows her. Her reputation is such a strong one that everyone overlooks her occasional eccentricities. The friendship between these two is very deep. In fact, it's actually love, but only time will tell if they decide to act upon their feelings.
The mystery in A Beautiful Blue Death is two-pronged. I found one of the "prongs" to be easily guessed, but I forgot one of the major tenets of crime fiction and let the identity of the killer slip through my fingers. Oh well. That's what happens when I enjoy a cast of characters so much-- and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more books in this series!
I felt like this was a wonderful mash-up of Sherlock Holmes style deductions (looking at people's clothing to tell where they have been), Lord Peter Wimsey's class commentary & butler side-kick, and Agatha Christie's household drama. I'm looking for the next book in the series right away!
I have to say I really wasn't sure, even 1/3 of the way through, that I would like this series, of which this is the first. By the end of the book I put the rest of the series on my wish list and can't wait to get them! One of the reviews says that Charles Lenox is a "unique sleuth who combines the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes with the people skills of Thomas Pitt." Library Journal. I agree wholeheartedly, very much of that genre. Could have been written by Ngaio Marsh or Dorothy Sayers. Lenox even has a "Bunter" as Lord Peter does, only this one is named Graham.
I really liked this book and have been reading the rest of the series. He does a good job of describing the setting and life in the 1800's without being boring and you wondering where the cell phones are.