Dorie's Reviews > A Burial at Sea

A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch
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's review
Nov 14, 2011

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bookshelves: historical-mysteries

** spoiler alert ** In Finch's newest historical mystery, Charles Lenox opens a potentially exciting new chapter of his life. Not only is his wonderful Lady Jane expecting, but he finds out his older brother Edward is involved with British Intelligence. Edward approaches Charles to ask him to take on a special mission. British spies are being assassinated, and Charles must meet with a French intelligence operative in Egypt, all the while on a seemingly diplomatic mission to discuss the recently finished Suez Canal. Charles accepts and finds himself bound for Egypt aboard the Lucy. When one of the ship's Lieutenants is murdered, the Captain of the vessel charges Lenox to investigate and find the murderer.

I had only two problems with this book, one small and the other pretty big. For one, there was a lot of information about sailing, ships, and navy rank thrown at the reader in the beginning. This plus the fact that there were a lot of new characters to memorize made for slow reading. But Finch does put together an interesting set of characters, Charles' assigned steward McEwan being my favorite.

The other problem I had was more serious, and that lay in the plot of the murder mystery. (Spoilers for the killer are ahead, so if you haven't finished the book don't read further.) As it came out, Halifax was murdered the very night Martin told Billings that he'd recommended Halifax as new Captain of the Lucy over Billings. And Martin wouldn't think to bring this up to Lenox as a possible motive? More, the Captain insisted there was no one who bore any kind of grudge against Halifax. This all coming to light later once Billings was unmasked just annoyed me and spoiled the entire plot of the mystery. It was ridiculous.

But I did end up enjoying most of the book. The voyage to Egypt took up so much of the book that I was beginning to fear it would end in a cliffhanger, but without seeming too rushed the plot managed to draw to a close with all plot lines neatly tied up.

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