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A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries #1)

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  5,142 ratings  ·  701 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 some...more
Kindle Edition, 324 pages
Published (first published June 26th 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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....more
Jessica Howard
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...more
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 here and on GoodReads before I chose to read it, they are overwhelmingly favorabl...more
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...more
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
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
Sara Poole
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.
Tracey, librarian on strike
I have reviewed this book; the review can be found here, on Booklikes, and here, on my blog. However, I will no longer be posting reviews on Goodreads, due to its changes to terms of service and, far worse, the boneheaded and incomprehensible way it proceeded with the new policy. Deleting content, almost randomly, and without warning (whatever they may have said) is wrong, and a half-hearted apology later doesn't make it all better. Failing to provide a sitewide announcement is wrong. Failing to...more
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
May 31, 2010 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
I picked this up after inadvertently reading the third book (The Fleet Street Murders) in the series. I liked that enough to see if the series started out well or it had developed into something during the previous two books.

I'm happy to say that the author began with a good footing and that all three books are pretty decent reads. To be fair, I'd probably give this more of a 3.75 that a full-blown 4, but c'est la vie.

It is definitely a detective story but like the other two novels the actual cr...more
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...more
My Aunt Meg, a huge fan of mysteries of all sorts, recommended this and I found it quite charming. Finch has a tendency to overexplain our hero's actions and motivations -- normally I'm not a fan of telling over showing, but this sort of thoroughness started to grow on me after a while. I ended up quite liking Lenox, and the sidekicks -- old friend Lady Jane, big brother Sir Edmund, and Graham the shrewd and loyal butler -- are charmers as well. On to the next volume in the series!
Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine)
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.
Great Victorian mystery. I listened to it and LOVED the narrator. His voice was smooth and changes in voices didn't sound like nails on a chalkboard as they normally do. Was the feeling of the book "been there, done that"? Yes, I read a large number of these books and they generally have the same feeling, but this was definitely one of the better ones.
This book started off a bit slowly but with a likeable main character and quickly picked up pace. I will definitely try and get my hands on the other books in this series as soon as possible.

Recommended for:
Sherlock Holmes fans, people who like to read books set in London in the 1800s (1865 in this case).
It's 1865 London and we meet Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer who just happens to be an amateur detective. His closest friend, Lady Jane, finds out a former maid of hers has died and asks Charles to look into the death. And it begins...

This is a mystery in the vein of Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot EXCEPT this author knows how to write a fully formed multi-dimensional character who has believable dialogue with other wonderfully written characters. Don't get me wrong I love Hol...more
Thank you Barbara for sharing this delightful book with me. What a great find. Charles Lenox isn't quite Inspector Gamache, but he will do nicely until another Gamache book comes along.
The story is set in England before WWI and has a sort of Downton Abby feel to it. Lenox is of the upper class and likes to dabble in solving myteries. He isn't appreciated by Scotland Yard, but his advice is sought out from time to time when an odd crime has been commited.
Charles Finch pays close attention to d...more
It was the cover of this book, that particular yellow and the three shelves of interestingly-shaped bottles with their lovely old labels, that made me pick it up from a pile of books someone left in the lobby of the apartment building where I live. It sat on my shelf for a few months, and then I picked it up on a chilly January night, and these were the sentences that made me decide now was the time to read it: "It was a bitterly cold late afternoon in the winter of 1865, with snow falling softl...more
Lord Peter Wimsey wannabe Charles Lennox is a wealthy, forty-something Victorian bachelor living in London next to his BFF Lady Jane (the author makes sure to point out how unusual this relationship is, particularly for the time, as if acknowledging that he knows it's unrealistic will help us suspend our disbelief), and with his faithful and loyal manservant Graham. Like Lord Peter, Lennox likes puzzles and murders, so when Lady Jane asks him to look into the death of a former housemaid of hers,...more
Jane Gorman
I enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading the rest in the series. Charles Lenox is endearing, engaging and entertaining. He seems to have it all – but he has his flaws, too. There’s nothing worse than a protagonist who’s nothing but perfect, and Lenox is just the right amount of imperfect.

The only thing better than the characters was the description and setting. I feel like I just got back from a trip to Victorian London! Which is exactly what I look for in my books – a fun escape....more
Clockstein Lockstein
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 o...more
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
This book's arrival in my reading pile was total serendipity. I don't usually read mysteries; I listen to them so I don't cheat and read the last page first. However, I was looking for something to read at one of our libraries and the title of this book jumped out at me. This volume and the third were sitting together waiting for me to find them.

Charles Lenox is the product of his time which is the Victorian era. However, he is willing to consider that some modernizations are a good thing. He is...more
One of my favorite combinations---historical fiction and a murder mystery. Set in the mid 1800's London, the main character is Charles Lennox, a typical Victorian gentleman and bachelor---second son of nobility who financially does not have to 'work' for a living. He spends his time in pursuit of his hobbies which include travel, archaeology, history and of course, sleuthing. All of the standard characters are in place--the trusty man-servant/sidekick, the elder brother with the family and seat...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
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
Sarah Asp
I actually enjoyed this book very much but I couldn't quite give it a 4 because of the fact that the author had not exactly done his research. He seemed quite at ease with the facts and history of the time and place (Victorian England) but it was evident to me that he missed something a bit more vital to authenticity. For example, an Englishman does not "fix" coffee - he prepares or makes it. There are no such things as sidewalks in England but pavements. "Trash" is another Americanism, as is th...more
I enjoyed the characters in the story, but found the writing and the mystery lacking. I probably liked the characters because they were similar to Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey. We had the 2nd son in a titled family with nothing much to do with his time other then solve "puzzles", a butler much like a friend who helps solve the mysteries, and friends who buck the traditional rules of society (the Scottish doctor and the BFF who is a woman). However I didn't find the writing or the mystery...more
Lynne Tull
Well, I found a new mystery series upon recommendation of a friend at the library. There is mystery and a little bit of romance during the Victorian Era. I usually read in the Regency Period, but it's about time to move forward in time:) I like the characters: the detective, his childhood lady friend who live next door(read romance), his partners-in-crime "solving"-his butler and his brother. I already feel like I am part of the team!
"A Beautiful Blue Death" is great fun in the tradition of amateur sleuths like Lord Peter Wimsey and Peter Campion (though Campion was probably more likely a professional who simply took no money for his services). Charles Lenox is a capable detective whose investigations often take him through the British upper class, sometimes much to their consternation. All in all, a fun read.
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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 the forthcoming novel about expatriate life in Oxford, THE LAST ENCHANTMENTS. I also write book reviews for USA Today and the Chicago Tribune and essays in ma...more
More about Charles Finch...
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)

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