Linda Baker's Reviews > A Death in the Small Hours

A Death in the Small Hours by Charles Finch
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A Death in the Small Hours is another pleasant read in the Charles Lenox series by Charles Finch. While not my favorite of the series, I enjoyed both the puzzle and the character development of Charles and Lady Jane.

Charles is now well settled into his role as a Member of Parliament and has been in fact asked to give the opening speech at the upcoming new session. He and Lady Jane also have a new daughter, Sophie. He only occasionally consults with his protege, Dallington, who has largely taken over the role of the premier private investigator in London. Matters in London have become very hectic with those who want to give him mountains of advice about his speech. When his cousin, "Uncle Frederick", asks him to come to the country for a visit, Charles thinks it would be a fine opportunity to get some peace and quiet, and to work on the speech. Uncle Freddie is also concerned with a series of vandalisms in the idyllic village of Plumbley.

Charles, Lady Jane, Sophie and Sophie's new governess pack up for a short visit to the country, only to find that the vandalism has continued and become very sinister in nature. Village suspicion has fallen on a Captain Musgrave, newly resident. Musgrave is arrogant, hot tempered and is suspected of mistreating his wife- a girl who grew up in Plumbley. Events escalate, a death occurs and Charles must sort out the puzzle.

There are many things I enjoy about the Charles Lenox series. The quality of the writing is excellent and one gets a "slice of life" of the Victorian Era. Lenox himself is a quietly decent sort, devoted to his family, his friends and his duty. He is also a doting papa; some of the most charming parts of the book are his enchantment with his new daughter. He is concerned with poverty and the unfairness of laws in that era and hopes that by serving in Parliament he can make a positive change. However, there is no doubt that his first love is investigation. I for one hope that he will return to private enquiry in future books. It's clear that he is feeling rather torn.

There is one lengthy passage that slows the narrative in an otherwise well-paced flow. Charles takes part in a village cricket match and it seems to go on forever without advancing the story. Like many Americans, I find cricket mystifying and the passage did little to enlighten me. To quote Lady Jane, " As far as I understand you play by attaching mattresses to your legs and waddling back and forth between two sticks, while occasionally gesturing with your own personal stick at some sort of red ball. But then I don't call myself a great sportsman." My feeling exactly!

A Death in the Small Hours is another solid entry in the series. I would recommend it to fans of the British Village mystery.

3.5 Cricket Bats

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Reading Progress

November 5, 2012 – Shelved
November 30, 2012 – Started Reading
December 1, 2012 – Finished Reading

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