Monday, November 23, 2009

A Victorian Mystery

Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light.
- John Ruskin

Charles Finch's novel, A Beautiful Blue Death, is a well-researched debut novel. A mystery, it is set in mid-Victorian London, and introduces gentleman detective Charles Lennox, whose ambitious travel plans are continually disrupted by crimes in need of investigation. I enjoyed the portrayal of this somewhat laid back and congenial detective and appreciated his fondness for books and relaxation with literary tomes. With the addition of friend Lady Jane Grey he investigates the murder of her former former maid, now working for a director of the Royal Mint. We find that the crime is more complicated than it initially seems and is further complicated by the author with the addition of a second murder. The solution to the murders and how they are connected fills the novel with suspense while avoiding the unnecessary gore often associated with novels about crime. Both the period detail and cast of secondary characters, especially Charles' relationship with his butler, enhanced this reader's enjoyment. This was an intricate and well-written Victorian mystery novel that gave me reason to explore more stories of literary detective Lennox from the pen of Charles Finch.

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch. St. Martin's Griffin Edition. 2008

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