Series: Charles Lenox #10.5
Published by Minotaur Books on October 3, 2017
Genres: Christmas, Historical Mystery
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Also in this series: An Old Betrayal, The Laws of Murder, A Beautiful Blue Death, The September Society, The Fleet Street Murders, Home By Nightfall, The Inheritance, The Woman in the Water, The Vanishing Man
Also by this author: An Old Betrayal, The Laws of Murder, A Beautiful Blue Death, The September Society, The Fleet Street Murders, Home By Nightfall, The Inheritance, The Woman in the Water, The Vanishing Man
In this delightfully absorbing short Christmas story in the bestselling Charles Lenox mystery series, Lenox must find a soldier who ran into a cloakroom for his hat—and never returned.
Charles Lenox’s holiday preparations are interrupted when an officer vanishes at Charing Cross Station. Lieutenant Austen, by all accounts an upstanding member of the elite Grenadier Guards, disappears, and his friends, searching the cloakroom of the station where they had been waiting for their trains together, find only a spray of blood on the wall above a scattering of his personal items—his train ticket among them.
Scotland Yard is baffled. Has the Lieutenant, who had a hand in intelligence, been kidnapped by French operatives? Or is there some more personal grudge at work? The situation grows graver by the hour, and Lenox knows that he will have to work quickly and brilliantly to have any chance of discovering the missing soldier—and getting home in time for his own Christmas dinner.
Gone Before Christmas is almost a locked-room puzzle, with a victim who vanishes from a room with only one door. As puzzles go, it’s a good one, although if you’ve read enough detective fiction, you’ll spot the figurative loophole to the locked-room aspect. Since I do read a lot of mysteries, I figured out part of it fairly early on (how the victim got out of the room) but I anticipated neither the motive nor the whole solution. Nor did I expect Lenox’s response, though in retrospect, it wasn’t out of character. I enjoyed the chance to spend an hour or two of the holidays with these characters, whom I know so well from the books: Charles, of course; his 5-year-old daughter Sophia and his wife Lady Jane; his widowed brother Edmund; and both of Charles’s partners, Polly and Lord Dallington. A quick but satisfying Christmas mystery.