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A Beautiful Blue Death (2007)

by Charles Finch

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,29710010,516 (3.46)218
Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, likes nothing more than to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist the chance to unravel a mystery. Prudence Smith, one of Jane's former servants, is dead of an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The grand house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prue had dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by the motive for the girl's death. When another body turns up during the London season's most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence Smith? Or was it something else entirely? And can Lenox find the answer before the killer strikes again--this time, disturbingly close to home?… (more)
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» See also 218 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
first of a series and I mean to read them all! what a find - just what we need during a pandemic ( )
  Overgaard | Oct 20, 2020 |
This was a 3 star book for most of its journey--it was good, but I wasn't jumping up or down about it--but I loved the resolution and denouement so much, it bumped up a spot. Well done, book!

It's not perfect--and the author acknowledges that in the later edition I read--so I'll start with what I liked, and then move to quibbles.

I liked most of the main cast and apparent recurring characters, most of the sense of place/time, and the realities of the detection (the hero realises he can't just barge into the murder house forever, quizzing people, as fictional detectives as so often wont to do). I thought the author played very fair with the clues and resolution (I spotted one of them, but it didn't lead me to immediately guess the ending).

I enjoyed the tone of the book, and appreciated that the level of violence was medium-low which suits me just fine: I sit midway on the violence continuum between "Binky McSillypants and the Crumpets of Doom" (all pinks, with tea and crumpets on the table, and Binky (the cat detective) curled nearby), which would be too twee for me, and at the other end "Murder: Death House" (sans serif giant letters, with as nearly giant an author's name (something like Ed Black) below, and some hazy photographic monochrome image barely below that might resolve into a weapon if you peer really closely).

Quibbles? None of the suspects really came to life, and were all white men, and I had trouble distinguishing between Duff and Potts and Soames etc. until quite near the end. Also, the author had this very unusual tic of repeating himself, but in a manner that suggested it was first-time information, leading me to think I was re-reading sections when in fact I really had advanced. Here's a made-up example detailing the Humpy Dumpty story:

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall ... He enjoyed the view while having tea, because he was up quite high, having decided to sit on a wall .... Luckily for Humpty, he had quite good balance--a necessary condition when one (as Humpty did) sits on walls frequently... He looked forward to meeting his friend Jack Sprat later in the day, at Jack's home, because Humpty enjoyed sitting on walls and Jack was afraid of heights."

There might be a page or two or entire chapters between each repetition of previously-established fact, and it's entirely unnecessary and a bit irksome. I will go to my grave knowing what splendours await one who turns left when entering the House of Commons by the members' door, because of that repetition, and it didn't figure into the plot!

Hopefully it's a habit he grew out of, because I look forward to book #2 now.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Oct 13, 2020 |
The first of this detective series by Charles Finch, the reader is taken back to Victorian era London. Charles Lenox, a gentleman sleuth, solves the murder of his neighbor's former lady's maid. You get the picture! I enjoyed the gentle unfolding of this story, its characters, and the kind nature of the protagonist. There was an enjoyable, humorous musing about the foibles of the upper class as well. Very nice read. ( )
  hemlokgang | Oct 12, 2020 |


This will be short cause I really loathed this book. It took me two days to get through. If not for the fact that a DNF does not count towards bingo, I would have done so at the 10 percent point. This book is tedious, boring, and overwrought somehow all at the same time. The main character is opposite day Sherlock Holmes. I really wanted him to reach a terrible end, but since this is the first book in a 11 book series, there was not much hope of that. I heard through reliable readers that the series gets better. I hope so.

I read this for the "Darkest London" square since this is a mystery taking place in London during the Victorian age.

The lead character is Charles Lenox. He is self proclaimed amateur sleuth who helps out the Yard from time to time. He has a Yard inspector that doesn't like him, a close friendship with a childhood friend, another friend who is a doctor with a drinking problem, and his butler is used as his runner for certain jobs he needs him to do. When his childhood friend and London neighbor, Lady Jane asks him to look into whether a former maid of hers was murdered, he does. Frankly, I never got a good reason why Lady Jane cared, but that is neither here or there. So off Lenox goes to stick his nose in and quickly deduces that the former maid (Prudence Smith) was poisoned. Hence the name "A Beautiful Blue Death."

Lenox really is just a boring type of Sherlock Holmes. He fusses about being cold, his feet being cold, being wet, taking naps, how much toast to eat, his freaking tea, wine, scotch and soda, everything. I have never read so many boring descriptions about what a character was doing in one book before.

Everyone in this book is a version of a character in a Sherlock Holmes novel. I refuse to list them and all the ways.

The writing was blah. Reading that when X woke up, they stretched their arms, and thought about what they would have to break their morning fast. They rose from the bed and admired their pajamas which were silk and put their feet into soft slippers. Looking around the room, X admired a winter painting of London which he thought captured London as it's most beautiful when it was quiet and no people around. Blah. The whole book was like that. He literally took a paragraph to describe a terrible ass room that he needs to re-do. I just can't anymore. Skip this first book unless you want o know the main players for future books.

The ending was a mess. It didn't make much sense. I think Finch is trying to set up Lenox having his own Moriarty and once again, good luck to him. Once we find out the guilty party it's like another 50-70 pages before the book ends. Maybe I am exaggerating, I don't care enough to open my e-reader to check. ( )
1 vote ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
I find it amazing that the author penned this in one sitting. It is well written and the characters are great. The setting is very soothing and comfortable. I'm not sure I want to read more of this author's work. ( )
  bcrowl399 | Apr 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
On the whole, though, most Sherlockians can skip this unengaging debut without risk.
added by rretzler | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 16, 2007)
 
Lovers of quality historical whodunits will hope this is the first in a series.
added by rretzler | editPublisher's Weekly (pay site)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Finchprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gurova, Irina GavrilovnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sohns, MarionTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The fateful note came just as Lenox was settling into his armchair after a long, tiresome day in the city.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, likes nothing more than to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist the chance to unravel a mystery. Prudence Smith, one of Jane's former servants, is dead of an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The grand house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prue had dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by the motive for the girl's death. When another body turns up during the London season's most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence Smith? Or was it something else entirely? And can Lenox find the answer before the killer strikes again--this time, disturbingly close to home?

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