solaret's Reviews > A Beautiful Blue Death

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
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's review
Nov 06, 2011

it was amazing

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 think there's three more after it so far. Like most mystery books, it revolves around a lone (amateur) detective who constantly finds himself involved in deaths. A digression here, but someone should tell mystery writers that you can create a perfectly good mystery without having people die. See Sherlock Holmes, for example.

Anyway, this is set in Victorian times. The closest comparisons I can think of are Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. Like Sherlock Holmes, there's a close circle of friends/acquaintances that help Charles Lenox with his cases - Thomas McConnell, a doctor who married into the upper crust of society; Lady Jane Grey, a love interest who introduces him to the case; Graham, his excellent butler; Exeter, a Scotland Yard detective who has little imagination and obstructs him whenever possible; and Edmund Lenox, the detective's brother who is doing very well in politics. Like with Agatha Christie, it's makes for quite comfortable reading. (Perfect with tea and cakes, I would think.) I never felt that Charles Lenox was in any real danger. This sort of deadens any suspense one might feel, especially since the first part seems to drag on without any real clues.

On the other hand, I loved the secondary characters. There's understated humor in each of the conversations, and no one is stupid, the way they are in many of Agatha Christie's novels. I found Graham and Edmund especially likeable.

The mystery was very well done. There were plenty of suspects, but no one jumping out as a red herring. I couldn't make out what was going on until the very end, when Charles Lenox explained it all. Even then, I still found myself surprised about the identity of the real criminal, yet looking back, there were enough clues that I could figure it out. My only gripe is that the author left quite a few loose ends, though I suppose that's why it's a series.

I look forward to reading the next one, The September Society.
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message 1: by Dee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dee It does have a rather nice cover. I like a nice cover too, but it doesn't always make for a good read so I have found a few times. I am enjoying the book. Mystery is my new favorite genre.

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