Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch

I have usually avoided mystery reading in my adult life; I hate waiting to the end to find out what happened.  But, this year I've decided that I really do need to try reading a few mysteries, so a friend recommended this series.  I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it and have discovered the kind of mysteries I do like--historical.

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch takes place in London around 1866.  The main character is Charles Lenox, a comfortably wealthy bachelor in his early 40's.  He has a deep interest in maps, ancient history, and travel.  Unfortunately, he keeps getting entangled in solving crimes in London and has to keep postponing his trips abroad.  

His next door neighbor is the delightful Lady Jane, a widower who grew up with Charles at their country estates; they share a very warm and friendly relationship.  You know they share strong feelings for each other, but are completely unaware of what exactly they are feeling.  Instead, they rely on their life-long friendship and daily teas to chat and enjoy each other's company.  

This first mystery revolves around the apparent suicide of a maid--Pru Smith.  It appears that she has poisoned herself, but it quite quickly becomes obvious that someone else poisoned her.  But why?  Lenox becomes involved in this because Pru used to work for Lady Jane, and she is so upset at this turn of events that she asks Lennox to investigate.  

So who did it, and why?  Pru worked for George Bernard, who is in charge of the Mint.  Strange break-ins have taken place at the Mint, so Bernard moves all the gold to a safe place in his home.  Hmmm.  And, he has lots of house guests--two nephews, a few members of Parliament, and many servants.  Lenox and his butler, the charming Graham, and his friend, Dr. McConnell, all work together to put together the pieces of a puzzle that is more complicated than any of them realize.  

I enjoy any book where the main characters return home to a roaring fire, hot tea, and a plate of sandwiches after a hard day of detecting and fighting the forces of darkness.  This is a perfect read for anyone who wants to try mysteries, but likes a bit of history thrown in--and it isn't full of gore, either.  The relationships between Lenox, Lady Jane, and Graham are the main driving force in this mystery, and it brings you back for more.  And there is more!  There are currently 7 Lenox mysteries in print--the next one up is The September Society.  If you're looking for a new mystery series, I suggest this one--perfect for Mom and Grandma, Dad, and you.  

Rating:  8/10 for character development, historical setting, and a mystery that will satisfy the reader.

Available in paperback and e-book format.

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