Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Beautiful Blue Death

A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries)A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch is the first book in the Victorian mystery series featuring investigator Charles Lenox. Lenox has developed a reputation in London for being able to solve mysteries that others, even Scotland Yard, have trouble with. As a gentleman, the wealthy feel they can trust his discretion, but the poor also seek him out as a good man. In this case, his neighbor and best friend from childhood, Lady Jane Grey, asks for his help determining the truth behind the death of her former maid Prudence Smith who was recently found dead of poison in the home of her new employer, George Barnard. He quickly calls on Dr. Thomas McConnell, a formerly brilliant surgeon who because of marital trouble has turned to drink and therefore works best on the dead, to help him get to the bottom of the supposed suicide. But Lenox's cast of suspects is large, and after Barnard determines to have the case dismissed as suicide, his access to the participants becomes difficult at best, but Lenox is determined to solve this case for Lady Jane and to find justice for Prue. Finch introduces several fascinating characters in this debut from gentlemanly bachelor Lenox who revels in his solitude to Lady Jane whose early widowhood has cast a pallor on her, but is still the reigning queen of the London ton to Thomas and Toto McConnell whose marriage was a fairy tale story that fell to tragedy and they are now putting the pieces back together to Edmund Lenox, Charles' brother, who has unexpected death, even to Charles! Throw in the multitude of servants and Lenox's own Irregulars, and Finch really has populated the series with a wide range of interesting supporting cast. The mystery itself is nicely complicated and will keep readers guessing right up to Lenox's surprising announcement of the murderer, and then Finch throws in a nice twist right at the end that will hook readers for the next book. This solid mystery will please fans of the genre, and the character development should give it plenty of room to grow.