Tag Archives: Charles Lenox

The Inheritance

the-inheritance

Title:  The Inheritance (Charles Lenox Mystery 10)
Author:  Charles Finch
Publisher:  Minotaur
Publication Date:  2016
ISBN:  978-1-250-07042-5

Book Summary:
After a quiet holiday in the country with his family, Charles Lenox returns home early when he receives a cryptic note from an old friend.  Gerald Leigh and Charles were unlikely friends at Harrow; Charles was a fairly “by-the-book” student while Gerald scoffed at the rules and eventually left school early.  Charles was from a well-to-do family; Gerald’s attendance at Harrow was paid for by a mysterious benefactor.  Although different, the two boys found common interests and deep, respective friendship, and the search for the identity of Gerald’s mysterious benefactor was Charles’ first, albeit unsuccessful, foray into detecting.

Gerald’s note is choppy and distracted, but Charles feels compelled to help.  His intent for assistance turns into alarm when Gerald fails to appear to meet as promised.  Charles deduces some potential places that he may be hiding out and when he finds Gerald, he is discovers two shocking things.  One, Gerald has been bequeathed another, more substantial bequest, and someone is trying to kill him.

Committed to helping keep his friend safe and finally solving his first case, Charles plunges into the scientific world of the Royal Society.  In the years since he left Harrow, Gerald has established a name for himself through his scientific discoveries; is it someone from his present, or from his past, that is trying to kill him?  Further demanding of his time, Charles’ detective agency is on retainer for smaller cases in Parliament.  A recent rash of thefts has proven elusive and dangerous.  With his quintessential English stoicism, Charles strives to help both his friend and his country.

Book Commentary:
With the tenth book in the Charles Lenox series, author Charles Finch has something that few authors of long-running series can claim: he maintains consistent quality stories.  I find that with some authors who have a dozen or more books in a series, there are a few that just don’t maintain my interest or have a consistent quality.  All the Charles Lenox stories are excellent, and I think the main reason is the character of Charles Lenox.  He is an intelligent, charismatic protagonist with a refined, calm demeanor.  That is not to say he is perfect; at times, he is arrogant, aristocratic, and flawed.  He is human, from his flaws to his attributes; he is also very likable, someone I would like to have tea and an intelligent conversation with.

The series relies on diverse plot-lines with some adventure, but bottom line is that the protagonist solves the cases through good, old-fashioned detecting. I don’t want to insult them by calling them “quiet” stories because author’s witty and elegant writing style keep the reader fully engaged, but he doesn’t feel the need to always include some grandiose, cliff-hanging escapade in order to solve the case.

I also enjoy the subtle history lessons that author weaves into the story.  He discusses how advent of the telegraph brought both progress and problems to Parliament and how the English custom of driving on  the left came about.

The secondary characters of Edmund, Jane, Dallington, and McConnell reappear in each book to help maintain the consistency of the plots and help to ground Charles into the life of a gentleman.  I look forward to their appearance in each story; their own personal growth and development as characters further influences and defines Charles’ own personality.

Who might like this book:
This series would appeal to anyone who likes a classic English mystery.  The author’s grasp on history is similar to how Tasha Alexander weaves together events, customs, and principles of England in the late 1800’s.

DO NOT even think about not reading this series in order.  It is a great one to get hooked on because there are so many!!  Here is the series in order:
A Beautiful Blue Death
The September Society
The Fleet Street Murders
A Stranger in Mayfair
A Burial at Sea
A Death in the Small Hours
An Old Betrayal
The Laws of Murder
Home By Nightfall

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Home By Nightfall

Home by Nightfall

Title:  Home By Nightfall (Charles Lenox Mystery 9)
Author:  Charles Finch
Publisher:  Minotaur
Publication Date:  2015
ISBN:  978-1-250-07041-8

Book Summary:
It is London, 1876, and after a very challenging and disheartening start to his detective agency, former Member of Parliament, Charles Lenox, has settled well into his new career.  As a member of that part of society whom “trade” is considered below them, Lenox has spent many years helping Scotland Yard and indulging his own interests and queries by engaging in detective work.  By joining forces with two other detectives, the formulation of their agency solidifies his dedication to his talents.  However, Lenox realizes how this comfort of pursuing a career that he enjoys and enjoying the life of husband and father can be shattered when his older brother’s wife dies suddenly.

As Edmund retires to the Lenox family estate in Markethouse, Charles feels compelled to join his brother in concern for his health in his grief.  Furthering the depth of the loss of Molly, Edmund’s sons Teddy and James are away from England and have not heard the news.  While in Markethouse, Edmund oversees the care of his estate but also as its Member of Parliament, he administers legal counsel.  Arthur Hadley is a resident of Markethouse and a vice director of the Dover Limited Fire and Life Assurance Company.  He approaches Edmund and Charles with a perplexing story.  Upon his most recent return from traveling for work, Hadley came home to his house to find a candlelight in the window.  He then saw a face in the window that disappeared.  Nothing was stolen from the house and other than a disturbing chalk outline of a girl on his front stoop, nothing else was amiss. Hadley then reports that a few days later he was called out of town for a fire insurance claim that was a false report.  When he returned home, he discovered that a bottle of sherry was missing.  All this occurred while his charwoman, Mrs. Watson, was in the home.  Hadley has no reason to question Mrs. Watson’s dedication but fears for his own safety that someone is able to enter his home without his knowledge.  Edmund’s curiosity is peaked and because of this spark of interest in his brother, Charles agrees to take the case.

However, this is not the only case Charles has on his mind.  Back in London, famous German pianist Mueller was the talk of all London.  He recently played a concert, bowed to the audience, returned to his dressing room, and disappeared.  No trace of a violent struggle or any explanation of how he was able to leave the theater without being seen is evident.  Scotland Yard is thoroughly confused and under a great deal of pressure from the press, and the Queen herself, to discover the whereabouts of the missing pianist.  To make matters worse, Scotland Yard has asked for the assistance of LeMaire, a detective who was formerly with Lenox and his partners, but left to form a competing agency.  To top everything off, a number of Lenox’s discreet clients have left his agency for LeMaire.  There seems to be a traitor in their office.

Traveling back and forth between London and Markethouse, Charles tries to juggle the three cases.  When someone is viciously assaulted and a body is discovered, the pressure to solve the cases escalates and Charles must draw on all this investigative skills and powers of deduction to find a killer, a traitor, and a missing person.

Book Commentary:
The book jacket of the Charles Lenox books describes the stories as “equal parts Jane Austen and Charles Dickens,” and this is truly a fitting description.  I have followed the Charles Lenox books since the first one and the character has really grown and developed.  What I most appreciate about his character is his humanity; he makes mistakes, at times he can be a bit conceited, and yet, he is always a proper English gentleman.  The cases he solves are varied and complex, and the storytelling isn’t fast-paced, but rather engaging and thoughtful.

I love this series!  I usually am drawn to female protagonists in historical mysteries so this is a pleasant departure for me.  I enjoy the ways women must work within the confines of the society in which they live.  The Charles Lenox series follows a similar pattern as he must work within the parameters of the land-owning population of 1870’s English society.  The juxtaposition of Charles dining at his club and then running through the back streets of the seedy parts of London gives great dimension to his stories.  The author has a very dry wit and though not formal, writes in an elegant, refined manner.

Who might like this book:
If you like classic British mysteries then this book is for you.  The story is engaging and thoughtful with quite a bit of wit, personality, and humor.  This is a great series that I think appeals to both genders.  Author of the Lady Emily series Tasha Alexander often comments on her love of this series and that is a great endorsement for me!

Here is the series in order:
A Beautiful Blue Death
The September Society
The Fleet Street Murders
A Stranger in Mayfair
A Burial at Sea
A Death in the Small Hours
An Old Betrayal
The Laws of Murder