A Stranger in Mayfair
Changes are intruding fast and furious into Charles Lenox’s formerly well-ordered life. First there is his marriage to Lady Jane Grey, followed by a wonderful honeymoon in Paris, which seems almost a dream when they return to London. There is the task of joining their two homes—literally in this case, as their side-by-side townhouses are being remodeled into one large home. Their good friends’ new baby brings a whole set of unanswered questions for the uncertain newlyweds. Then there is the unfamiliar business of Parliament, convening for the first time for the newly elected MP. All this makes for an uncharacteristically unsettled Charles. Fortunately, his old life intervenes, as a footman from a Mayfair house is found murdered. But just days after Charles is asked to investigate the matter by the servant’s master, he is warned off by the very same man. This, of course, only piques his interest, as does the realization that the young footman was leading a secret life.
This fourth novel is a fine addition to the series. As ever, the plain appeal of the characters, especially Charles Lenox himself, shines throughout the work. If the mystery is somewhat simple for the reader to solve, it is easily forgiven, as one loses one’s self in another more genial time and place. In this regard, the author continues his uncanny ability to bring 19th-century London alive. This time, it is the workings of Parliament that comprise the fascinating subplot. These are revealed to the reader in much the same way as they are discovered by the neophyte Charles, sometimes surprising, always interesting. However, take this work not as an intellectual exercise but one of pure enjoyment.
This is a mystery that captivates rather than challenges, but does so completely.