A Burial at Sea

Written by Charles Finch
Review by John R. Vallely

Charles Lenox, a member of Parliament with an unlikely background as a detective, is charged with a secret diplomatic mission to Egypt to investigate French operations on the Suez Canal. Leaving his beloved wife behind in London, Lenox sets off on HMS Lucy. His voyage promises to be stimulating, since it will allow him to experience the life of a Victorian sailor in a time of technological change from sail to steam.

Excitement quickly turns to danger as a brutal murderer makes his presence known. Called upon to use his long dormant detective skills, Lenox is presented with a catalog of suspects as well as a number of mutilated corpses. Lenox’s steady progress matches Lucy’s transit of the Mediterranean. The guilty party is unveiled as the Egyptian shoreline is in sight, but Lenox is unable to prevent the murderer’s escape. The diplomatic assignment to observe and report on the new Suez Canal takes up the final portion of the novel and the reappearance of the killer catches both Lenox and the reader by surprise.

Be of stout heart, though, our MP successfully serves Her Majesty’s government well regarding the canal and serves the Royal Navy equally well in bringing a killer to justice.