Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Burial at Sea (a Charles Lenox Mystery) by Charles Finch

 A Burial at Sea by Charles FinchA Burial at Sea

The blurb:
Charles Lenox, Member of Parliament, sets sail on a clandestine mission for the government.  When an officer is savagely murdered, however, Lenox is drawn toward his old profession, determined to capture another killer.
1873 is a perilous time in the relationship between France and England.  When a string of English spies is found dead on French soil, the threat of all-out war prompts government officials to ask Charles Lenox to visit the newly-dug Suez Canal on a secret mission.

Once he is on board the Lucy, however, Lenox finds himself using not his new skills of diplomacy but his old ones: the ship’s second lieutenant is found dead on the voyage’s first night, his body cruelly abused. The ship’s captain begs the temporarily retired detective to join in the hunt for a criminal.  Lenox finds the trail, but in the claustrophobic atmosphere on board, where nobody can come or go and everyone is a suspect, he has to race against the next crime—and also hope he won’t be the victim.
At once a compulsive murder mystery, a spy story, and an intimate and joyful journey with the Victorian navy, this book shows that no matter how far Lenox strays from his old life, it will always come back to find him.

I am new to the Charles Lenox mysteries and very much enjoyed A Burial at Sea.  Other reviewers recommend reading the books in order, but I found it easy to like and follow the story of Charles Lenox, the forty-two year old former investigator now member of the House of Commons.  Lenox is three years into his political career and misses his old vocation.  But he's married to his childhood friend and a soon-to-be-father and a rising star in Parliment.

It is 1873 and British-French relations are at a delicate point again.  Lenox is asked to sail to Egypt  to undertake a secret diplomatic mission on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. His cover story is that he has been tasked to enter into a relationship with the Egyptian government that will allow the English access to the Suez Canal and to facilitate trade in between Europe and Asia.

This is Lenox's first sea voyage and he's on Lucy, one of the best regarded ships in Her Majesty's Navy.  Early into the voyage, an officer is found murdered.  There are few clues and the Captain calls on Lenox's aid to find the killer and to restore peace on the ship.  Lenox's investigative skills are a little rusty, but he soon picks up his old habits.  In a ship of over two hundred strangers, in an environment and culture new to him, Lenox must find the killer before he strikes again, before unrest leads to a mutiny.

For those who enjoy historical detective novels, Charles Lenox and A Burial at Sea deliver a captivating mystery full of historical and nautical details, complicated relationships and unexpected twists.  A fun read!

ISBN-10: 0312625081 -Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (November 8, 2011), 320 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program and the publisher.

About the Author:
Charles Finch is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, including The Fleet Street Murders, The September Society and A Stranger in Mayfair. 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. He lives in Oxford, England.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read any of Finch's books yet, but I got them on my radar. I do have a copy of A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH, so I guess I should start there!