Monday, August 27, 2007

Pg. 69: Charles Finch's "A Beautiful Blue Death"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Charles Finch's A Beautiful Blue Death.

About the book, from the author's website:

When a maid in Mayfair drinks an exotic poison, is it suicide?

Or a case for Charles Lenox?

London, 1865. On a gray evening late in autumn, amateur detective Charles Lenox's closest friend needs help. A former servant of her house, Prudence Smith, is beautiful, a flirt, and dead. Was it an accident? A suicide? Or does the pile of gold in the house have something to do with it? As Lenox begins to uncover the truth another body falls at the most fashionable ball at the season, and the chase is on before the killer strikes again ... dangerously close to home.
Among the praise for A Beautiful Blue Death:
"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."
--Publishers Weekly

"What elevates A Beautiful Blue Death from just another historical mystery is the relationships Lenox has with the people around him; with Lady Jane, his brother Edmund and Graham. While the central mystery is fascinating, what captivates readers is the exploration Lenox’s relationship with Lady Jane and the window it provides into the life of a gentleman of leisure. Their habit of taking their daily tea illustrates the depth of their relationship, unusual for a time when the intersection of men and women’s lives was quite minimal. It is the man these relationships illuminate which will draw readers to future volumes about Charles Lenox."
--Janelle Martin

"A Beautiful Blue Death is a superb Victorian mystery starring a reluctant debonair hero whose preference is to be a couch potato rather than a field detective. The whodunit is cleverly designed so as Lenox finds a clue he ends up taking either a sidestep or two steps backwards as his case is far from linear as he had initially believed when he drew a jealousy line from the victim to the men salivating after her. The historical tidbits that make 1865 England come to life actually enhance the investigation that will elate sub-genre fans as Charles Finch provides a great first act."
--Harriet Klausner
Read an excerpt from A Beautiful Blue Death.

Check out Finch's guest blog post at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

The Page 69 Test: A Beautiful Blue Death.

--Marshal Zeringue