An Old Betrayal, by Charles Finch

November 8, 2013 Book Reviews 5 ★★★★

An Old Betrayal, by Charles FinchAn Old Betrayal by Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox #7
Published by Macmillan on November 12th 2013
Genres: British mystery, Historical Mystery
Pages: 294
Source: the publisher
four-stars
Also in this series: The Laws of Murder, A Beautiful Blue Death, The September Society, The Fleet Street Murders, Home By Nightfall, The Inheritance
Also by this author: The Laws of Murder, A Beautiful Blue Death, The September Society, The Fleet Street Murders, Home By Nightfall, The Inheritance

In An Old Betrayal, the seventh book of Charles Finch’s bestselling series of Victorian mysteries, a case of mistaken identity has Charles Lenox playing for his highest stakes yet: the safety of Queen Victoria herself.

On a spring morning in London, 1875, Charles Lenox agrees to take time away from his busy schedule as a Member of Parliament to meet an old protégé’s client at Charing Cross.  But when their cryptic encounter seems to lead, days later, to the murder of an innocuous country squire, this fast favor draws Lenox inexorably back into his old profession. Soon he realizes that, far from concluding the murderer’s business, this body is only the first step in a cruel plan, many years in the plotting.  Where will he strike next?  The answer, Lenox learns with slowly dawning horror, may be at the very heart of England’s monarchy.

Ranging from the slums of London to the city’s corridors of power, the newest Charles Lenox novel bears all of this series’ customary wit, charm, and trickery—a compulsive escape to a different time.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Review

Why on earth have I not picked up this series before now?  An Old Betrayal, the seventh book in the Charles Lenox mysteries by Charles Finch, is a finely-crafted historical mystery, well-written and engrossing.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and can’t wait to read the previous six books.

Charles Lenox is a former private (consulting) detective, clearly gentry although untitled, who now serves in the House of Commons.  But his interest in the art of detection remains, and when a puzzle presents itself, he is not at all reluctant to pursue it.  In informal partnership with his former protege, Lord John Dallington, Lenox finds himself once again on the trail of a murderer, unraveling a plot which may involve Buckingham Palace itself.

Lenox is an honorable and compassionate man, intelligent and capable of sudden insight or intuition, but without the cold brilliance of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.  Both he and author Charles Finch approach the other characters with respect regardless of their station in life, and with a certain reticence to say too much or become too personal.  Nonetheless, we get to know some of the secondary characters fairly well, though always through Lenox’s eyes (the story is told in third person limited.)

Finch’s writing style reflects the manners and formality of Victorian England’s upper and professional classes without being either stilted or dry.  He seems at home in both the era and its language; it’s hard to remember that he is, in fact, American  (though the American spellings do rather spoil the illusion.)  He’s also scrupulously fair to the reader, never concealing any clues which Lenox has opportunity to discover — although it is up to the reader to pick them out.

An Old Betrayal, and (I suspect) the entire series, should appeal to aficionados of the classic mystery, and particularly to fans of Conan Doyle, Christie, Sayers, and the like.  I had no difficulty jumping into the series with book 7, but if you prefer to read your mystery series in order, you’ll want to begin with A Beautiful Blue Death.  As for me, I’ve already put the first few books on my wish list!

 

four-stars

About Charles Finch

Charles Finch is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries. His first novel, A Beautiful Blue Death, was nominated for an Agatha Award and was named one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2007, one of only five mystery novels on the list. His first contemporary novel, The Last Enchantments, was published in January 2014. He has written for The New York Times and Slate and regularly reviews books for The Chicago Tribune and USA Today. He lives in England.

5 Responses to “An Old Betrayal, by Charles Finch”

  1. Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

    Oooh now I’m really curious about giving this author a try, did you have any difficulty with it being the 7th book in the series and not having read the first?
    P.S. I shared a link to your post on Facebook & Twitter 🙂

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Not in the least; the author introduces recurring characters and works in backstory in ways that help new readers without (I think) being annoying to series followers. Thanks for the share!

    • Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

      Good to know, I was worried my library wouldn’t have the whole series (it happens sometimes) but I looked and they have them all so now I’m in a debate with myself about whether I should start a new series now or wait until January. Decisions, decisions *sigh* 🙂

  2. Marissa A

    I love historical mysteries because it’s nice to learn something new including the setting and daily life from a whole different era and of course there is the mystery that I love in general 🙂