Pamela's Reviews > A Beautiful Blue Death

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
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Dec 18, 10

Read in December, 2010

Charles Lenox, the younger son of a baronet, is the consummate Victorian gentleman sleuth. He is an amateur Roman historian and armchair explorer, the library of his Mayfair townhouse is stocked with Lucretius, histories of Persia, and whatnot, and he enjoys a cozy, lifelong friendship with the attractive young widow next door, Lady Jane Grey. He has a lot more wit than bumbling Bertie Wooster but his butler, Graham, is as dependable as Jeeves. On one particularly nasty winter afternoon, Lady Jane begs Lenox to look into the suspicious death of her former servant, the alluring Prudence Smith. Prudence has been murdered with a rare poison, her death staged to look like suicide. Her employer's grand home is full of suspects and secrets but not of motives...until another murder is committed. Lurking on the periphery of Scotland Yard's investigation, Lenox must explore the chambers of Parliament, the gentlemen's clubs on Pall Mall, the shops of back-alley apothecaries, and the seamy pubs and gang hangouts of the waterfront to sort out an increasingly complex and baffling web of intrigue.

I am clearly in the middle of a Victorian Cozies craze, and A Beautiful Blue Death did not disappoint. Lenox is an engaging and endearing hero. His displays of deductive reasoning are reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, but while Holmes is so clearly exceptional--above the material and emotional cares of this world--Lenox is an everyman, devoted to his family and friends and in abject horror of snow in his woefully inadequate boots. "What bliss was there to compare to a warm fire, fresh socks, and buttered toast on a cold day! Ah, and here was his tea..." Indeed, a man after my own heart. I wish he was real and a friend of mine. The mystery was deftly plotted and well-paced. While it wasn't at all predictable it was easy enough to follow. Finch's command of British period language is commendable and much appreciated after Tasha Alexander's many anachronisms. Along with Graham's indispensablity, Finch's prose and inclusion of a pair of cousins named Claude and Eustace put me greatly in mind of P.G. Wodehouse.

In fact, I think that Conan Doyle meets Wodehouse is probably the best descriptor I can come up with. I'll definitely be reading the other books in the series. Sorry, dissertation...
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Reading Progress

12/17/2010 page 68
21.0%
12/17/2010 page 115
35.0% "A savvy, dependable butler and two cousins (not our hero's) named Claude and Eustace are conjuring fond memories of Wodehouse..."

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