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A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries #1)

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  8,347 Ratings  ·  1,135 Reviews

Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, likes nothing more than to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist the chance to unravel a mystery.

Prudence Smith, one of Jane’s former servants, is dead of an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects s

Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Minotaur Books (first published June 26th 2007)
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Let me first make a few disclaimers, I did not finish this book. I almost always believe that reviewers who do not finish the book should not be leaving reviews with stars.

I am going to make an exception with this book as I have with only one other. This time I am making the exception because I hope to spare someone, who has similar tastes to mine, the pain of reading this book.

I looked at the reviews of this book on Amazon and on GoodReads before I chose to read it, they are overwhelmingly fav
Alas, suckered in yet again by a beautiful cover and really good title. The title, however, is pedantically explained away very quickly in the book – and that is pretty much how the rest of the writing runs as well. Repetition and a strong case of the “Captain Obvious is obvious” make up the dominant style here: the first chapter is spent largely on explaining how Our Hero Lenox has just come home and it’s cold and he doesn’t want to go out again. He wants to stay by his fire with a book. He wou ...more
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
For some reason this book didn't grab me the way I expected. It could mean that my first and only reading slump isn't over or that this was simply a miss for me (which is strange because I like this genre). Whatever the reason, I found the characters' conversations annoying and some of ordinary things the protagonist does are way too detailed (having tea, breakfast and such).
Still, take this with a grain of salt. For now it was simply an okay story. I might return to this book when I am in bett
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.5* of five

I submerged into 1865 London with surprising ease in this debut mystery. I was irked by lots of little picky detail boo-boos, but charmed by the characters of Charles Lenox and Lady Jane Grey, who *should* be called Lady Deere or the Dowager Countess of Deere, but whatever. Their interspecies friendship, as the Victorians would see it, is charming and sweet and very vibrantly drawn. Its charm makes me feel all squooshy inside.

And that's the real reason I've only rated this 3.
Nov 10, 2012 Katy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am very sorry to say that this book suffers from three major faults which I was unable to ignore.

First, it's full of Americanisms. By halfway through I was so annoyed by them being used in the context of a London-based tale set in the mid-Victorian period, that I began to list them with their British 'translations':-

Sidewalk (pavement)
Sure you are (of course you are)
Gotten (got)
He took a left (he turned left)
Clubhouse (Club)
How do you figure? (how do you work that out?)
Workingman (worker, lab
Khanh (the meanie)
I'm trying to immerse myself in this series of a noble Victorian armchair sleuth and a Watson-esque butler, and I just can't get into it. This is the first book in the series, and I've since read two sequels, and they were just progressively worse. I kept reading hoping to get more...anything from the series, more background information, more insight into their characters, some kind of depth. There's nothing. No passion, no greatness, just a dull, lukewarm historical whodunnit.
Sara Poole
Aug 07, 2009 Sara Poole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m just a little bit in love with Charles Lenox, the hero of Charles Finch’s charming debut Victorian mystery. Lenox is smart, decent, upstanding and oh, so devoted to the delightful Lady Jane. The two join forces to plumb the truth behind a young maid’s death. Finch writes with confidence and verve, drawing us into Victorian London without resorting to cliches. The plot moves along smartly, the resolution satisfies completely. Curl up with a cuppa; you’re in for a treat.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Quite a charming little who-dun-it
Amateur sleuth enamored with parliament and the architecture of the Victorian period has money to throw around and lots of confidantes to spy for him
High class manners
Deals with titles and servants
I recommend for a light read or a break from the regular routine
Jessica Howard
Jan 08, 2009 Jessica Howard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a highly suspenseful mystery, but rather a quiet, Victorian, armchair-detective type book.

I liked Charles Lenox, the main character, and his ruminations on the oddity of Victorian culture and the impossibility of getting properly made boots. I do think that some of the minor characters (most notably servants and those of lesser class) weren't sketched out fully, but it seems appropriate given the mindset of the era that a gentlemen would think of these types of people in broad sterot
Mary Gilligan-Nolan
This is one I had recommended to me by a Goodreads friend and I would like to say a thank you for putting me on to this series. I really enjoyed it. It's a great old fashioned crime/mystery set in the late 1800's in London. A gentleman of leisure, Charles Lenox, who likes to dabble in solving crimes in his spare time, free of charge, as he is well set up financially. His life-long friend, Lady Jane Gray asks him to look into the death of her former maid, who has taken up a new position with anot ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
There are enough historical "whats" to get my attention, but 3 stars because the mystery is sufficiently competently done.

However, Victoria was not, and was not referred to as, "Queen Empress" until made Empress of India, some 11 years after this book is set.
Hollie Bush
The author owes a serious debt of gratitude to Dorothy L. Sayers. If you believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then this book is downright effusive. The author is also a little too eager to demonstrate his mastery of historical trivia, which can take you out of the narrative - and wears a little thin as the novel progresses.
That being said the book is a fun and charming historical mystery that will undoubtedly be enjoyed by those of us who love Dorothy L. Sayers, Sir Arthur
Natasha M.
Jul 15, 2015 Natasha M. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Do I have the words to describe how awful this book was? Would, if I could, give this book a lower rating than one star! It took me ages to finish (and only because I'm behind in the book reading challenge) and was not engaging. The only saving grace was that the chapters, for the most part, were short.

In brief, what was so bad? Historical detail was bizarre and inaccurate, the lead character was a pompous ass who fancied himself an armchair Sherlock Holmes (and even came out with a few "you've
Kate Howe
Feb 09, 2017 Kate Howe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At last - a mystery series set in the Victorian era that I enjoy! This checked a lot of my boxes as far as mysteries go with a not too convoluted murder, compelling characters, easy writing, cozy settings, and even foreshadowing of a possible romance. Definitely looking forward to the next in the series!
Feb 28, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was a quick read, and quite enjoyable. I love a good series, and I couldn't resist checking out this mystery when I saw book 5 of the series on the New Books shelf at my library. The author is an American who graduated from Yale, and then got a master's degree at Oxford in England, where he now resides. I have developed an affinity for all things English, especially historically English, and in a small way I like to imagine that I was meant to be born in England in a different time entirely ...more
Oct 03, 2015 Jen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

It started off well, then went slowly downhill. And I do mean SLOWLY. Oy, I got to 50% and was too bored to read the rest to get to the murderer and the why so skipped to the end. I wasn't wowed by the big reveal.

The diction of the characters and the historic "facts" were not in keeping with the time. It was rather jarring and took me out of the book on more than one occasion. Also, the author has ne
Aug 03, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book in a mystery series starring amateur sleuth Charles Lennox, a Victorian gentleman living in London. The mystery involves the apparent suicide of a maid who used to work for Charles' friend, Lady Jane. Suspecting murder, Charles, who has solved a few mysteries before, is asked to look into the matter. He has help from his brother (a member of Parliament), his valet, and his physician friend (who is interested in forensic pathology).

The characters were interesting enough to make me
Feb 07, 2013 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't bad, it just wasn't interesting. There was no suspense and I often felt like the author was trying to interject his vast knowledge of English history but it just didn't flow with the story.

I managed to finish it, but I won't be reading any more of the series. Just too darn dull.
Feb 06, 2015 Mona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pleasant Crime Novel, A Bit Soporific

"A Beautiful Blue Death" had some good qualities, but I can't say it's one of my favorites.

I think it was trying a bit too hard to be clever. Also the settings and characters were a trifle boring at times. They were a little too removed from everyday life to be entirely believable.

British aristocrat Charles Lenox has inherited such a comfortable sum from his father that he doesn't need to work.

He is an amateur detective, but amateur only in the sense of being
Sep 17, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Friends, I have discovered an excellent new series. By far my favorite mysteries are ones where the detective drinks a lot of tea and does a lot of thinking; I secretly desire to be Miss Jane Marple when I grow up. Set during the days of Queen Victoria, A Beautiful Blue Death is a gem; it's thoughtful, detailed, funny, and engaging, and I didn't want it to be over once it actually was. Happily for me, there are several more books already published with another one coming out later this year. I l ...more
How did the editor not catch a major error like how long the maid had been in her new job? According to two characters, she's been there for 3 months, while another, who had met her at the new place of employment, had known her for almost a year. More problematically, the characters are 21st century morals and ethics in the mid-19th century. And how does a man wear a dinner jacket to the biggest event of the London season in 1865? And last, how, after making a big deal at the beginning of the bo ...more
Sep 05, 2015 MaryG2E rated it did not like it
I presume this author thought he was writing some clever satire on relations between the social classes in 1860s England. At least I hope this was his intent. If he were serious, this is indeed a tragedy of a novel. Because the book is super-saturated with all sorts of appalling snobbery and class conscious jibes. While the kernel of the plot has some appeal, the tone and style of the writing do not, and I, in all conscience, could not finish this awful book.
May 26, 2013 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I 'read' this on audiobook I got from the library and I adored it! James Langton was the narrator and his voice and accents added so much to the atmosphere of the era. Full of wonderful descriptions of the Victorian era and lifestyle. The lead character Charles Lenox is a great , well rounded character. There is the hint of a budding relationship with his long time great friend widow Jane Grey and of course his butler Graham is his friend and crime solving partner. His brother is the one who inh ...more
A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH (Traditional Mystery-Charles Lenox-London-1865- G+
Finch, Charles – 1st book
St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2007, US Hardcover – ISBN: 9780312359775
First Sentence: The fateful note came just as Lenox was settling into his armchair after a long, tiresome day in the city.
*** Charles Lenox is a gentleman, traveler; albeit more armchair than actual, who enjoys his life as a bachelor, his comforts and his dear friend and neighbor, the Lady Jane, a widow who similarly enjoys her solitary
I ended up agreeing with the couple of friends I have that previously reviewed this book. I'm glad that my introduction to this series was the seventh book, because I would not have carried on if this was my only impression. Charles Lenox comes across as a frumpy old man in this book when I believe he is in his early-mid 30s. His relationship to curiously named Lady Jane Grey is close enough to make the reader wonder why they don't just get on with it then. Overall, his character was much better ...more
Mar 06, 2012 Marfita rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marfita by: stupid Goodreads recommendation generator
Shelves: mysteries
What's wrong with this detective? He's got all his limbs, has plenty of money, people like him, no personality problems ... not like his friend the doctor who's an alcoholic. Where's his hook?
I slogged through the painfully slow detection in this book only to have the murderer ring the doorbell, walk in, and confess. I mean, really! And then after he owns up, he tries to escape. What sort of clown murderer is this? Who kills someone with one kind of poison and then leaves a bottle of red herrin
Oct 01, 2008 Min rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I'm not quite sure what it was about this book that bugged me. Frankly, I'm surprised I finished it at all. There was just something lacking in the prose - that certain something that makes a good book really come together and catch you up in the tale - that was lacking in this one. I felt as if I was reading the outline of a novel and only some of the major plot points had been fleshed out. There was far too much of Charles' boots and tea; instead of acting as lures into the life of the charact ...more
Oct 16, 2009 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
The book completely failed to interest me in the plot or characters, but the worst part was that I kept stumbling over the language. Finally, on page 72, I came across two sentences that made me put the book down forever.

"But at least, he thought with grim satisfaction, he was ahead of Exeter, who was still twisting his whiskers and thinking the girl had destroyed herself while his underlings stroked his ego."


"He read quite contentedly until eight, when he had to dress for supper with his fri
Laurel Hicks
There are too many things this American writer does not know about Victorian England. The book does not ring true. It is his first; perhaps he will improve. I hope so, because I do like the idea of an aristocratic amateur sleuth who reads Trollope and Shakespeare while sipping his tea. Oh wait—isn't that Lord Peter?
Nov 06, 2011 solaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was browsing the mystery section and found this. Most of the other books there were the sensationalist type, or from series that go on and on and on (Sue Grafton, just by its side). But the cover of this book was gorgeous. (At least, the version with all the pretty glass bottles.) And I like pretty covers. Other influences that may have biased me include the cheesecake and cappuccino I was consuming while reading this. You have been warned.

A Beautiful Blue Death is the first of a series. I thi
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Cozy Mystery Corner : Charles Lenox Mystery by Charles Finch 11 42 Nov 27, 2015 10:37PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: A Beautiful Blue Death 1 3 Jan 07, 2013 04:44PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads' database with this name. See this thread for more information.

My name is Charles Finch - welcome! I'm the author of the Charles Lenox series of historical mysteries, as well as a recent novel about expatriate life in Oxford, THE LAST ENCHANTMENTS. I also write book reviews for the New York Times, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune an
More about Charles Finch...

Other Books in the Series

Charles Lenox Mysteries (10 books)
  • The September Society (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #2)
  • The Fleet Street Murders (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #3)
  • A Stranger in Mayfair (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #4)
  • A Burial at Sea (Charles Lenox Mysteries #5)
  • A Death in the Small Hours (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #6)
  • An Old Betrayal (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #7)
  • The Laws of Murder (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #8)
  • Home by Nightfall (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #9)
  • The Inheritance (Charles Lenox Mysteries #10)

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“Her strength was in the integrity of her actions; she never compromised what she believed she ought to do.” 31 likes
“...It had been a perfect nap -- the sort a man runs into now and again by chance...” 8 likes
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