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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

A Beautiful Blue Death

Author: Charles Finch
Originally Published: 2007
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Source: … not sure. It’s been sitting on my TBR piles for so long that I can’t remember.

The Story

A Beautiful Blue DeathFrom the back of the book:

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?

The Response

So, I’m not typically into mysteries. In fact, a lot of the time I’d pass on a mystery for almost anything… but this has been on my TBR for a long, long time, and Rachel loves it and has told me numerous times that I need to read it. Plus, I was in the mood for something either Regency or Victorian, and this was the first thing fitting that criteria that I saw on la TBR.

And I was pleasantly surprised. I may not always like mysteries, but when I do, I absolutely love them. See, this reminded me a heck of a lot of Maureen Jennings’ Murdoch books, which are quite fabulous. Both are Victorian with a lovely detective that is rather dashing – though, one is a gentleman and the other is a working man. That and they’re both set in the Victorian time period – though one is in England and the other in Toronto (Canada). Awesome and awesome!

I really liked this because it didn’t just center around the mystery. Yes, that was a large part… but we also got to experience Victorian London through Lenox. Not just the setting, but also the culture and the social circles that an independent gentleman would be involved with. I quite liked the look into the gentlemen’s clubs, especially – that sort of stuff really always has had some sort of draw on my imagination, mainly because I have no idea what to compare that to today. It almost, in and of itself, has a sort of nostalgia and romance (in that bromance sort of way, rather) that we no longer see as much today.

The author was also able to keep me guessing on who the murderer was right until the end. I have to say, that I didn’t expect it to be who it was, and I ended up having sympathy for people I hadn’t liked right from the beginning. I’m quite impressed that the author was able to do this.

The Bottom Line

I quite liked this! I’ll be reading more in this series.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:01 am June 12, 2013.
Category: Mystery
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  • Aarti

    I don’t read many modern mysteries at all, but I LOVE the historical ones, and I also have a weakness for those that take place in Regency England. In fact, I probably could fill a shelf with the first books in Regency mystery series that I own but haven’t read. I like to get them but then somehow do not *read* them and I don’t want to invest in the whole series without first knowing…