The September Society, by Charles Finch

March 6, 2015 Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

The September Society, by Charles FinchThe September Society by Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox #2
Published by Minotaur Books on August 5th 2008
Genres: British mystery, Historical Mystery
Pages: 320
Source: purchased
Add to Goodreads

four-stars
Also in this series: An Old Betrayal, The Laws of Murder, A Beautiful Blue Death, The Fleet Street Murders, Home By Nightfall, The Inheritance, The Woman in the Water, Gone Before Christmas, The Vanishing Man, The Last Passenger
Also by this author: An Old Betrayal, The Laws of Murder, A Beautiful Blue Death, The Fleet Street Murders, Home By Nightfall, The Inheritance, The Woman in the Water, Gone Before Christmas, The Vanishing Man, The Last Passenger

The sitting room looked as familiar as the back of his hand, and immediately Lenox took a liking to the young man who inhabited it. He saw several small artifacts of the missing student’s life---a frayed piece of string about two feet long of the sort you might bind a package with, half of a pulpy fried tomato, which was too far from the breakfast table to have been dropped, a fountain pen, and lastly, a card which said on the front The September Society. . . .

In the small hours of the morning one fall day in 1866, a frantic widow visits detective Charles Lenox. Lady Annabelle’s problem is simple: her beloved son, George, has vanished from his room at Oxford. When Lenox visits his alma mater to investigate, he discovers a series of bizarre clues, including a murdered cat and a card cryptically referring to the September Society.

Then, just as Lenox realizes that the case may be deeper than it appears, a student dies, the victim of foul play.

What could the September Society have to do with it? What specter, returned from the past, is haunting gentle Oxford? Lenox, with the support of his devoted friends in London’s upper crust, must race to discover the truth before it comes searching for him, and dangerously close to home.

Review

The September Society, book two in the Charles Lenox series, finds Charles investigating the very puzzling disappearance of an Oxford college student. Various clues left by the missing youth lead Charles to suspect the involvement of the “September Society” – apparently an exclusive club for former officers who served in India. But what would the club have to do with this particular young man, who never served with them?

It’s practically impossible to discuss the mystery itself without spoilers, but the plot is every bit as complex, challenging, and fascinating as I have come to expect from Charles Finch, with several surprising twists that I never saw coming. The novel also develops Charles’s character further, building on what we learned of him in the first book, A Beautiful Blue Death (review). Here we get a deeper sense of Charles’s interests and desires outside detection; for instance, he is keen on travel, or at least the idea of it. We also get a better sense of why he is a detective, as he considers taking on an apprentice. There are developments in his personal life as well, that will affect events in later books in the series – but again, I can’t be specific without spoilers (darn it!)

Many of the recurring characters from other books show up in this one, of course: Charles’s friend and neighbor, Lady Jane; Dr. Thomas McConnell and his wife Toto; Charles’s brother Edward; his valet, Graham. The book also introduces Lord John Dallington, a younger man with a less than stellar reputation; I rather liked him, so I’m glad that he apparently sticks around.

I am really enjoying this series – and the opportunity to read them in order! I hope to be completely caught up by the end of the year, preferably by the time book nine comes out next November. With only 4 more to go (since I’ve already read #7 and #8), I should be in good shape.

 

Challenges: COYER (eligibility: $2.99); Cruisin’ Thru the Cozies; TBR Pile Challenge 2015; Top of the Hoard 2015

four-stars

About Charles Finch

Author photo: 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, about expatriate life in Oxford, was published in January 2014. His essays have appeared in a number of publications, and he reviews books for The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and USA Today. Finch has lived in America, England, and France, and is now back in Chicago.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Winter 2014-2015
  • Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2015
  • TBR Pile Reading Challenge 2015
  • Top of the Hoard 2015

2 Responses to “The September Society, by Charles Finch”