by Charles Finch
First sentence: “The fateful note came just as Lenox was settling into his armchair after a long, tiresome day in the city.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: It’s actually quite tame, and not at all difficult to read. It’s in the mystery section at the bookstore, but it’d be good to give to a teen who really likes Sherlock Holmes.
It’s 1865, London, and Charles Lenox is one of those aristocratic men who like dabbling in things. He’s mainly a collector of maps and a bit of an explorer, but his hobby (and possibly passion) is being a detective. And, because it’s that sort of book, he’s much better at it than the bumbling, arrogant, unobservant Exeter, a member of the Scotland Yard.
Sounding familiar? It should. because Charles Lenox is just a much nicer Sherlock Holmes.
The murder in question is that of Prudence Shaw, a former maid of Lenox’s next-door neighbor and BFF, Lady Jane Grey. Scotland Yard (and her current employer) are calling it a suicide, but Lenox knows differently. She’s been poisoned by a rare (and expensive) poison called bella indigo. The question is: who did it, and why. (Well, duh. Isn’t that always the question?)
I thoroughly liked Lenox; as a character, he was charming and intelligent and just a pleasure to be around. I really liked his relationship with Jane, how it wasn’t a romance, but a real honest-to-goodness friendship. What I lost patience with, however, was the mystery. While I didn’t figure it out (I’m not good at those things), I wasn’t surprised at the end (which is probably a good thing). But, by the end, I had lost interest in the whole murder thing. And then it went on for several chapters after the final reveal, chapters I ended up skipping.
It wasn’t a bad mystery, just not one I was super enthused about. Liking Lenox as a Sherlock Holmes knock-off wasn’t enough to make me enthused.