Review

Charles Finch’s A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH is the first in the Charles Lenox historical mystery series. First published in 2007, I’m just now discovering what promises to be a wonderfully rich historical cozy series.

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. 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 next door.

One of Jane’s former servants, Prudence Smith, is dead – an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prudence dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by an elusive lack of motive in 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? Or was it something else entirely, something that Lenox alone can uncover before the killer strikes again – disturbingly close to home? (Synopsis from Amazon)

Rich in period detail, appealing characters, and a gratifyingly complex mystery, A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH is a wonderful discovery

A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH is the first in the Charles Lenox Victorian cozy mystery series. Lenox, Graham (his butler, among other things), Edmund (Lenox’s brother and heir to the title), Lady Jane Grey (friend from childhood), and last but not least, he of little imagination, Scotland Yard Inspector Exeter are the main characters introduced to readers. The relationships are finely drawn and well established. Lenox already has a bit of a reputation for detecting among his circle and Scotland Yard. Having just finished a case and looking forward to relaxing, Lenox is asked by Lady Jane to investigate the death of a former maid, Prue.  Prue’s death has implications that reach far beyond her station, leading Lenox to the halls of Parliament.

Lenox, as a gentleman detective, owes much to Sayers, Marsh, and Conan-Doyle. This would account for the ease with which I slipped into his world.  While there is that sense of familiarity, Lenox and his supporting cast have their own unique qualities that allow them to carve their own niche. Mr. Finch gives us glimpses into not only the past but foreshadows of future events and relationships. This has certainly whet my appetite for subsequent mysteries.

Rich in period detail, appealing characters, and a gratifyingly complex mystery, A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH is a wonderful discovery. I look forward to curling up in my chair and catching up with Lenox’s adventures over the coming winter.

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About the Reviewer

Ivy Truitt

Transplanted Southerner and avid reader. My tastes are eclectic. I discovered mysteries first then historicals in the era of Kathleen Woodiwiss & Rosemary Rogers. I was never able to finish Gone With the Wind, Scarlett got on my nerves too bad, but I loved Alaina in Ashes in the Wind. I also manage the guest author blog for Manic Readers. In addition to here you can find me on FB, Twitter, Goodreads, Librarything, & Riffle. Always up for talking about books, just gimme a holler!!