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A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries) Paperback – July 22, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 289 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Charles Lenox Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in England in 1865, Finch's impressive debut introduces an appealing gentleman sleuth, Charles Lenox. When Lady Jane Grey's former servant, Prue Smith, dies in an apparent suicide-by-poisoning, Lady Jane asks Lenox, her closest friend, to investigate. The attractive young maid had been working in the London house of George Barnard, the current director of the Royal Mint. Lenox quickly determines that Smith's death was a homicide, but both Barnard and Scotland Yard resist that conclusion, forcing him to work discreetly. Aided by his Bunter-like butler and friend, Graham, the detective soon identifies a main suspect, only to have that theory shattered by that man's murder. Finch laces his writing with some Wodehousian touches and devises a solution intricate enough to fool most readers. Lovers of quality historical whodunits will hope this is the first in a series. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Vividly capturing the essence of Victorian England, Finch presents us with a unique sleuth who combines the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes with the people skills of Thomas Pitt. A sparkling achievement.” ―Library Journal (starred review)

“A fine specimen of the genre…. Particularly good is [Finch's] delineation of Lenox's cozy-but-proper relationship with Lady Jane.” ―The Washington Post

“The best sort of historical mystery--clever, charming, full of period detail, and a delight to read.” ―David Liss, author of The Whiskey Rebels

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Product Details

  • Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur; Reprint edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312386079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312386078
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Victorian gentleman Charles Lenox recently assisted Scotland Yard in solving the Isabel Lewes case; a simple case the Yard should have easily solved despite their appalling lack of imagination. Now, on a bitterly cold late afternoon, all Lenox wants to do is sit in his library and enjoy the bliss of a warm fire. So when he receives an urgent message from Lady Jan Grey, his closest friend and next door neighbor, he ventures forth to brave the cold, despite his inadequate boots.

Lady Grey's former servant, Prue Smith, has apparently committed suicide-by-poisoning at the home of her new employer, George Barnard, the current director of the Royal Mint. At Lady Grey's request, Lenox visits the crime scene and is quickly convinced that Prue's death is murder, despite assurances from the Yard and Barnard that it is suicide. Thomas McConnell, a surgeon and close associate of Lenox, determines the cause of death to be a rare poison called bella indigo (beautiful blue). The Yard does not welcome Lenox's assistance, and that leaves him little access to the Barnard household, forcing him to investigate discreetly and utilize the services of Graham, his butler and friend. It is not until a second death occurs that Lenox begins to piece together the puzzling crime.

A Beautiful Blue Death is Charles Finch's delightful debut novel. The pairing of Lenox and Graham brings to mind Lord Peter Wimsey and his valet Bunter. Similar to Dorothy Sayer's creations, Lenox and Graham share more than a purely professional relationship. Despite the friendship and amity they feel for each other, the barriers of class keep them separated.

What elevates A Beautiful Blue Death is the relationships Lenox has with the people around him.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a huge fan of Victorian murder mysteries and finding a new author is like winning the lottery. I absolutely loved A Beautiful Blue Death. Charles Finch's writing is rich, descriptive, and engaging. The mystery itself is fascinating and draws you right in. You'll find yourself rooting not only for Charles Lenox - the brilliant yet reluctant detective - but for his friend, Lady Jane, and his loyal butler, Graham.

Finch does not get bogged down in everyday details of Victorian life, so if you're not a big fan of Victorian era books, don't worry.

I highly recommend this book not only to Victorian mystery fans, but to all history fans.
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Format: Paperback
If Charles Lenox were to have his way, all he'd wish for are warm boots, a blazing fireplace, some tea and sandwiches, and an hour or two spent with his maps. But the aristocratic amateur sleuth is always in demand in Victorian London. His childhood friend, Lady Jane, appeals to his innate curiosity and investigative skills. Her upstairs maid, Prudence Smith, who'd moved to the household of Royal Mint director, George Barnard, died under suspicious circumstances. Believed by Barnard and Scotland Yard to be a suicide, Lenox isn't much convinced, and neither is Lady Jane. With the help of his friend, Dr. Tom McConnell, they conclude that she'd been poisoned by the rare and expensive potion called bella indigo, the titular "beautiful blue."

Suspects abound, from Prue's lovers to Barnard's houseguests to Barnard himself, but motives are scarce and flimsy. What to make of this motley crew and their secrets? Soon, Lenox discovers that there's more to this poisoning than meets the eye, and when a second murder is committed, he realizes he'd been looking at this puzzle quite the wrong way.

"A Beautiful Blue Death" is the first of the new Charles Lenox Mysteries. Much of its appeal is Lenox himself, an affable, debonair intellectual very much like Dorothy L. Sayers' creation, Lord Peter Wimsey. He even has his own Bunt--Graham, his butler-cum-spy--who's every bit as smart.

Mr. Finch's pleasure in bringing 1865 London to life is evident, and it really does come to life, from the fashionable abodes of his upper crust sleuth and associates to the shady apothecaries, sinister alleys, and stuffy anterooms of posh clubs.
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Format: Hardcover
The author, Charles Finch, has a winner with this new cozy mystery set in Victorian England. The characterization is suburb. Lenox is a very likable well rounded amateur sleuth who lives comfortably in London next door to his childhood friend,a widow, with whom there is just a hint of romantic interest. He has a brother who is a parliamentary figure and a loyal, intelligent butler who helps with the "leg-work" of solving the mystery. Finch has included domestic scenes that make the story comfortable and keep the characters grounded. He adds historical detail about the current political events of the era without detracting from the plot. The plot is intriguing and believable. He doesn't rely on ghoulish forensics or psychotic killers - the reader has to actually think about motive! One of the best mysteries to come along in quite awhile. I highly recommend this book!!
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