The September Society
I was looking forward to reading this book, having been assured it was excellently researched, and that the American author did a superb job of presenting Victorian England. Yes, well, this picky reader nearly tossed the book in the bin, only her duty to the HNS kept her reading. One year at Oxford is not enough to give an author the cultural information necessary to write about upper-crust Victorian society, and there were so many gaffes. A good perusal of the first copy of Mrs. Beeton’s book of household management would have put him right on meals and hours for paying visits. Topics of polite conversation were another under-researched area. What we have in this book is another version of what Americans fondly imagine is ‘British History’, seen with a dash of Hollywood and distorting lenses.
Our hero Charles Lenox (meant to be a Lord Peter Wimsey type) is scion of an ancient family and a private detective. He is also, like Lord Peter, a collector of books and dubious about getting married. I liked Peter Wimsey more.
The plot is solid; as a whodunit the story is satisfactory. The Honourable Charles is asked to find first one then two missing Oxford undergraduates and soon murder rears its head, as do the old military mysteries. It seems that serving in India is tied to the present-day September Society and more deaths threaten, so it’s Charles Lenox to the rescue.
For those who enjoy a murder mystery and aren’t fussy about accuracy or having a Victorian feel to the story, this book is a pleasant afternoon’s entertainment. I’m sure American readers will love it.