A Beautiful Blue Death
by Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries #1
Genre: Historical Mysteries (Victorian England)
Published by Minotaur Books, 2007
Synopsis: Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, likes nothing more than to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist the chance to unravel a mystery.
Prudence Smith, one of Jane’s former servants, is dead of an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The grand house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prue had dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by the motive for the girl’s death.
When another body turns up during the London season’s most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence Smith? Or was it something else entirely? And can Lenox find the answer before the killer strikes again—this time, disturbingly close to home?
He had always wanted to be a traveler in his heart, and while he had made it pretty far–Russia, Rome, Iceland–he had never lost that childhood vision of himself, dusty and tired but triumphant, finding something completely new out on the edge of the world.
The reason these clubs flourished, Lenox felt, was that this was an age of unusually rigid separation between men and women. He and Lady Jane ignored that separation, but most men spoke very little with women except at parties, and were most comfortable playing a hand of cards or smoking a cigar with their friends, a kind of solidarity encouraged in grammar school, public school, and university, all of which excluded women.
- I enjoy the day-to-day life Charles Lenox talks about. I like hearing about his clubs and the people he meets.
- Charles discovered he was good at solving mysteries and since he doesn’t need money he never charges anything. He often helps Scotland Yard, but they aren’t very appreciative–though they’re glad to take the credit when he solves a case.
- Charles agrees to investigate the death of a maid who had once been a maid for his friend Lady Jane. This investigation has a number of red herrings both for Charles and the reader. I did have an idea who the murder was (and I was right!) However, there is more to the mystery than I thought at first.
- I like Lady Jane. Since she lives next door to Charles and they’re good friends I think she will be included in future books. I hope so.
- This is not a thriller. More of a quiet mystery, a little old-fashioned perhaps. I enjoyed it. It was a quick book for me to read though the pace of the book is slow and steady! I know that sounds contradictory, but that’s how it felt. And it was great for a cold, winter day to sit by the fireplace and unlike Charles I could sit, stay warm, drink a hot cup of tea and read instead of venturing out in the snowy weather as he had to!
- Charles loves to plan trips and he collects the maps he would use on those trips. He often has to cancel his trips if he’s involved in an investigation. But he dreams of the trips he might make someday.
- I enjoy the description of Christmas with his brother’s family.
- The imagery of the “beautiful blue death” (bella indigo) is great.
- Sometimes there’s an omniscient point-of-view foreshadowing events. This wasn’t necessary and I think the book would have been better without it.
And a few thoughts . . .
- I liked this first book and plan to read more books in the series. I bought several when they were on sale!
Have you read this book? How did you like it?
- 2015 Goodreads Challenge
- Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
- New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
- TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog
- Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book with a color in the title)
- COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading (e-book–$2.99)