A Beautiful Blue Death

Written by Charles Finch
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Yet another Victorian mystery series, you say? Yes… and this one starts off with a bang! Intelligent, witty, clever and not easily figured out until the end: a very nice combination and a worthy beginning for new author Finch.

Charles Lenox is a gentleman: a bit of a scholar and armchair explorer, nothing makes Lenox happier than to relax in his study with a travel book and a cup of tea. But that peace is disturbed when he learns that his lifelong friend, Lady Jane, has discovered that her former servant, Prue, has been found dead in what appears to be a suicide by poison.

Lenox, who has a dash of the Holmesian in his investigative powers, asks his old friend, Dr. Thomas McConnell, to assist him in determining whether Prue poisoned herself. Dr. Tom has a bit of a drinking problem and has essentially ruined his medical career. But he’s smart. Not a bad fellow to have around when one is investigating a poisoning. Ultimately, of course, Lenox and McConnell uncover the dastardly perpetrators. All sorts of political shenanigans involving members of Parliament are at play, and not everything is what it first appears.

I must admit I enjoyed this book. Lenox is a likeable fellow. The characters are nicely drawn and a good dose of Parliamentary politics gives the mystery an historical framework. Is it a bit formulaic? Perhaps, but if you’re looking for a fun summer read without a lot of philosophy or soul-searching, this is the book for you.