The Fleet Street Murders (Charles Finch)

September 4, 2015 Book Reviews 8 ★★★★½

The Fleet Street Murders (Charles Finch)The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox #3
Published by Macmillan on July 20th 2010
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: my personal collection, purchased
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Also in this series: An Old Betrayal, The Laws of Murder, A Beautiful Blue Death, The September Society, Home By Nightfall, The Inheritance
Also by this author: An Old Betrayal, The Laws of Murder, A Beautiful Blue Death, The September Society, Home By Nightfall, The Inheritance

The Fleet Street Murders finds gentleman detective Charles Lenox investigating the mysterious, simultaneous deaths of two veteran newspapermen, while engaged in a heated race for Parliament.

It's Christmas, 1866, and amateur sleuth Charles Lenox, recently engaged to his best friend, Lady Jane Grey, is happily celebrating the holiday in his Mayfair townhouse. Across London, however, two journalists have just met with violent deaths--one shot, one throttled. Lenox soon involves himself in the strange case, but must leave it behind to go north to Stirrington, where he is running for Parliament. Once there, he gets a further shock when Lady Jane sends him a letter whose contents may threaten their nuptials.

In London, the police apprehend two unlikely and unrelated murder suspects. From the start, Lenox has his doubts; the crimes, he is sure, are tied. But how? Racing back and forth between London and Stirrington, Lenox must negotiate the complexities of crime and politics, not to mention his imperiled engagement. But as the case mounts, Lenox learns that the person behind the murders may be closer to him--and to his beloved--than he knows.

Protagonist Charles Lennox is torn between campaigning for Parliament and investigating two murders in The Fleet Street Murders, the third book in the series. the crimes appear linked, yet were clearly committed by two different killers at virtually the same time. Dallington, Charles’ assistant, is convinced that a friend accused of the crimes is innocent; Charles, more worldly-wise, isn’t so sure. But before he can do more than dip his toes and the case he’s off to Stirrington to campaign.

Finch’s research is always meticulous, and this book gives a clear-eyed look at the 19th-century British political process, where candidates could run in and represent a district to which they had no ties whatsoever, votes could be bought for a beer or a few shillings, and rural workers rarely had the time or necessary transportation to vote. It was a world where women’s only power was their influence over their husbands’ votes, and where the process – and the candidates  – were often corrupt. Yet good men like Charles Lenox did run, motivated by the desire to serve their country and perhaps their constituents. And the campaign rhetoric sounds surprisingly familiar to anyone who follows US or British politics today.

The campaign takes up perhaps a third of the book, the mystery much of what is left, but there is still room for character development as well as developments in the relationships of Charles and his fiancée Jane and their friends, Thomas and Toto McConnell. the mystery itself is satisfyingly complex and leads in unexpected directions offering several twists I didn’t see coming. With its stronger emphasis on character development, I think this installment is even stronger than books 1 and 2 – and that’s saying something, because both of them were excellent.

I’m thoroughly hooked on this series. I can’t wait to read the next three as well as number nine, Home by Nightfall, which is coming out this November. At that point, I’ll finally be caught up!

 

 

Challenges: COYER Scavenger Hunt #54 – a book with just an article of clothing on the cover (glasses)

four-half-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.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
  • COYER Scavenger Hunt - Summer 2015
  • Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2015
  • Top of the Hoard 2015

8 Responses to “The Fleet Street Murders (Charles Finch)”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      These are just so good, aren’t they? I loved the first book, too, but I think that the main character’s development has deepened as the series goes on.

  1. Bea @Bea's Book Nook

    hmmm, I like the sound of this except for all the campaigning. I usually skim over that in stories but if it’s a third of the story I might be better off skipping this one (when I finally get around to reading the series).
    Bea @Bea’s Book Nook recently posted…5 Year Blogaversary!!!!!My Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      That part was actually really interesting, both in terms of the people he encounters and in terms of how it allows you to see more of Charles’s character.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      This is set before Sherlock Holmes, but after the advent of Scotland Yard, so there’s no use of fingerprints, etc., but Charles does have a doctor friend who can run chemical tests to determine if something is blood, or a poison is present. But yes, it’s mostly pure detection, not technology.