October 4, 2011

A Beautiful Blue Death

A Beautiful Blue Death is the the first mystery starring Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman. Appropriately for the era in which it is set, it is not a suspenseful mystery, but rather a quiet, armchair-detective type book.  Charles Lenox's next door neighbor, Lady Jane, had formerly employed a maid named Prudence Smith. When Prudence turns up dead, Lenox is intrigued, and begins to investigate. This leads him to query her current employer--Barnard, a high ranking government official--and the other servants and guests in Barnard's house. A second death complicates matters, and flusters Lenox, because the second victim was his main suspect for the first murder.

I liked Charles Lenox, the main character, and his ruminations on the oddity of Victorian culture and the impossibility of getting properly made boots. I do think that some of the minor characters (most notably servants and those of lesser class) weren't sketched out fully, but it seems appropriate that a gentlemen of that era would think of those types of people in broad sterotypes rather than specifics.

The author, Charles Finch, has obviously done his research into the Victorian era, and Charles Lenox seems quite believable as both a gentleman and a detective. There are just a few moments, such as when Lenox is thinking about how beautiful the Parliament buildings are and how "no-one will ever care about Big Ben" that you get a sense of the modern author peeking through and poking fun, but mostly you can believe in Lenox's time and character.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Definitely!

 WIN IT! One reader will win a copy of A Beautiful Blue Death! 

To enter you can:
1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite historical novel. Is it a mystery? Make sure to put your email address in the comment form.
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Each person may have up to 3 entries. You have until 11:59 pm PST on 10/11/11 to enter. The winner will be chosen randomly by random.org. I will notify you via email, and you will have 48 hours to let me know where to mail your book (to addresses in the U.S. only please).

UPDATE: The winner is commenter #2, Abby! Congratulations Abby!