The Charles Lenox series, at ten books (plus a Christmas special story), is expanding again. Veteran author Charles Finch is writing a trilogy of prequels featuring his thoughtful gentleman detective.
Here Lenox is just out of college and only turning 23. As the second son of a baronet, he is trying to figure out what he might aspire to be. He is naturally curious and decides to try his hand as a detective. Scotland Yard assumes he’s too posh while his peers think it scandalous that he is working at all.
Like Holmes and Watson, Lenox and his valet Graham spend hours each morning clipping newspaper articles. Kidnappings, thefts, suspicious characters and of course, murder. Their files come in handy when an anonymous writer submits a letter stating he has committed the perfect crime and will do so again.
The duo launches a frantic search across Victorian London, trying to beat the murderer at his own cryptic game. Then a second body, dubbed the Thames Ophelia, appears.
The woman had on a thick white dress, almost a bridal gown in the style of Queen Victoria, in fact — who had first popularized that color for wedding dresses. It was muddied and soaked through. Very long plaits of her were extended down her body.
More remarkably, though, were the garlands of flowers up and down the body, ribboned together by their stems… Pg. 53
I’m making my way through the original series, and greatly enjoying them. The mysteries are intriguing, the characters vivid and most importantly for me, I don’t get bored. At the same time, the plot moves at a just the right pace — fast enough to not get mired down, but slow enough to feel enjoyable and not rushed.
This book moves the same way. There are subplots and minor characters but they all make the book richer, not crowded.
It is interesting to see the rough edges of the characters before they are worn down by future events, that only we the readers know about. Lenox in particular displays a foolhardiness that will be uncharacteristic of him later but perfectly underline the frustrations of an adrift young man.
Lenox is quickly becoming one of my comfort reads, like Christie or Wodehouse. I trust the author and so I can just enjoy the ride.
Withholding a half a star because one of the clues wasn’t really shared with the reader. And the book is set in 1850, before Big Ben was built. Not the end of the world and didn’t affect my overall enjoyment.
The paperback will be released in January 2019. Read an excerpt.
My thanks to Minotaur Books for the review copy.
Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries (Book 11)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (February 20, 2018)
Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches