Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #1)” as Want to Read:
A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Beautiful Blue Death

(Charles Lenox Mysteries #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  15,027 ratings  ·  1,954 reviews
On any given day in London, all Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, wants to do is relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. It's a nice life. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist another chance to unravel a mystery, even if it means trudging through the snow to her townhouse ...more
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Minotaur Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Beautiful Blue Death, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Lynn I started with the author's later-released "prequels" to this now extensive series, and I was immediately drawn into the characters and his intricate …moreI started with the author's later-released "prequels" to this now extensive series, and I was immediately drawn into the characters and his intricate knowledge of British history and how detecting came to a career.

I recently read this book and I don't think I would have stayed with the series if I started here. I'm hoping the author gained momentum as he developed the characters and the series.

I also listen to these via audiobooks so they "read" faster. Maybe give those three prequels a try? (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,027 ratings  ·  1,954 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #1)
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
Nov 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
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

This will be short cause I really loathed this book. It took me two days to get through. If not for the fact that a DNF does not count towards bingo, I would have done so at the 10 percent point. This book is tedious, boring, and overwrought somehow all at the same time. The main character is opposite day Sherlock Holmes. I really wanted him to reach a terrible end, but since this is the first book in a 11 book series, there was not much hope of that. I heard through reliable readers that the s
Sara Poole
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
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. ...more
Richard Derus
Dec 15, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
**3.5-stars rounded up**

A Beautiful Blue Death is the first in the Charles Lenox Mystery series. I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed that format for this cozy story.

I tend to enjoy Victorian Mysteries and this one was well done, with a lovely group of characters.

I will most definitely be reading additional books in this series and would recommend to anyone who enjoys Agatha Christie, or similar works.

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
Jessica - How Jessica Reads
Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2021 rated it really liked it

A Beautiful Blue Death is the first in the Charles Lennox mystery series. Having read several, it was interesting to go back to the beginning and see the evolution of Charles Lennox from wealthy aristocrat to full-time sleuth.
Charles Lennox is enjoying a cup of tea in his study when he is summoned by his neighbor and dear friend, Lady Jane, for help. One of Lady Jane's former servants has been found dead.
Everyone thinks that it is an apparent suicide but Jane doesn't believe that Prudence would
Jack Heath
4 Stars. A new detective for me and, now that I've read the first novel, another series on my "must-read" list. Set in London of the 1860s. Charles Lenox is a gentleman of leisure who often dreams of travel to distant places, but is repeatedly pulled back because of his talent as an amateur detective. When his beautiful friend Lady Jane asks him to look into the suicide of a former servant of hers, Prudence Smith, he is quick to oblige. Recently Prue had started working at the home of George Bar ...more
BAM the enigma “Ask me if you need help with a book”
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
Review 8/12/21:
Charles Lenox, well-to-do Victorian gentleman, is always planning trips to exotic places, but rarely gets to go. Because his other hobby is crime and all to often a case comes along that strikes his fancy. In this first installment of the mystery series, he has just wrapped up a forgery case. He begins to plan a trip to the Riviera, but must cancel the notion when his friend, Lady Jane Grey asks him to investigate the death of her former maid.

Prudence Smith had left Lady Jane's s
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Natasha M.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Malorie  (Firereader)
If you like a classic whodunit, reminiscent of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Beautiful Blue Death is for you. The author, Charles Finch, states that he was heavily influenced by Doyles famous Sherlock Holmes tales and it shows in his writing. Instead of it being a bad immatation like so many others who try to copy Doyles success, Finch creates a character that is the complete opposite of Sherlock but retains the feel of reading one of the great detectives novels.

The sometimes-det
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“A Beautiful Blue Death” is the first book in the Charles Lenox Mysteries and I am so very pleased to have discovered a wonderful new British cozy series. With its richly drawn characters and intricate plot set in 1860’s London, I felt transported back in time to the Victorian England. The main character, Charles Lenox s somewhat of a staid character, he is a decent man who goes against convention of his era and class by investigating murders. But what fully rounds out Lenox and his existence ar ...more
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Barb in Maryland
Enjoyable enough first in a mystery series. The setting is mid-Victorian (1865), the hero is a well connected gentleman of 40 or so who is an amateur sleuth. There's an omniscient narrator whose voice I quite enjoyed; he wanders through the story as the best of tour guides. The mystery is well done and we have a hint of romance between our hero and the lady next door.

ETA: 8 April 2021
Just finished re-reading this. It was so interesting to go back to book #1 and notice the seeds of future develo
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Kate Howe
Feb 09, 2017 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!
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.
Laura ♥
Jun 01, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in the set of Charles Lenox mysteries. A friend of mine recommended & lent me their paperback, and I loved it! It is such a cozy British murder mystery that had me intrigued and guessing the whole way through. It’s not necessarily an edge of your seat thriller, but rather just a good solid read that’ll have you charmed and wondering “who murdered the maid?” 👀

(Definitely also had me longing for Victorian England with a cup of hot tea looking out at the snow falling on cobb
Hollie Bush
Mar 15, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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? ...more
Benjamin Thomas
In Victorian London, Charles Lenox is a gentleman of the leisurely class, a man with no worries about income or career. His daily activities lean toward scholarly pursuits of exotic locales and spending time in the various social clubs of upper-class English society. But when his lifelong friend and neighbor, Lady Jane comes to him with news of a former maid apparently having committed suicide, Lenox is compelled to investigate. Shortly, he discovers the suicide note could not have been written ...more
3.5 - 4 stars.

I usually enjoy more the historical aspects in this series than the mystery itself, but it is a very enjoyable combination.
Feb 06, 2015 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
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #1)
  • A Game of Fear (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #24)
  • Legacy of the Dead (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #4)
  • What Angels Fear (Sebastian St. Cyr, #1)
  • Wings of Fire (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #2)
  • When Gods Die (Sebastian St. Cyr, #2)
  • A Long Shadow (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #8)
  • Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens (Wrexford & Sloane, #5)
  • Murder on Black Swan Lane (Wrexford & Sloane, #1)
  • Search the Dark (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #3)
  • Some Danger Involved (Barker & Llewelyn, #1)
  • When Blood Lies (Sebastian St. Cyr, #17)
  • Why Mermaids Sing (Sebastian St. Cyr, #3)
  • A Fatal Lie (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #23)
  • Where Serpents Sleep (Sebastian St. Cyr, #4)
  • What Remains of Heaven (Sebastian St. Cyr, #5)
  • A Cold Treachery (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #7)
  • A False Mirror (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #9)
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Charles Lenox Mysteries (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • The Woman in the Water (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #0.1)
  • The Vanishing Man (Charles Lenox Mysteries #0.2)
  • The Last Passenger (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #0.3)
  • 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)

News & Interviews

Heads up, history nerds!   Historical fiction remains one of the busiest and most popular genres in the book business. It can be tricky just to...
15 likes · 2 comments
“Her strength was in the integrity of her actions; she never compromised what she believed she ought to do.” 36 likes
“...It had been a perfect nap -- the sort a man runs into now and again by chance...” 9 likes
More quotes…