Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Death in the Small Hours

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of A Death in the Small Hours (Minotaur, 2012).

I'm honestly not sure how in the world I missed this one. I finished the fifth book (and, then, the most recent) in Charles Finch's series of Victorian-era mysteries back last summer when I was taking a solo road trip through northeast Georgia, to Clemson and back, and I'm sure that I knew then that Finch had another book due for release soon. I just plum forgot about it. I saw this out of the corner of my eye more than a year later and remembered "Hey! One of those books about Detective Lenox, MP!" There's even a seventh book that just came out! I wouldn't have known that had I not popped over to Amazon to get a link for you good readers to follow. Minotaur Books, your PR company needs a kick in the pants.

Charles Finch has settled into a comfortable groove with this series. Lenox pretends like he doesn't miss his days as an amateur sleuth, but he really does. His wife, and longtime best friend, politely smiles from the sidelines, his protégé Lord John Darlington has the old business in good hands when he's not drinking to excess, and all of privileged, aristocracy-era England is just waiting for some television company to buy the adaptation rights to these books.

This time out, Lenox and his family have taken a few weeks' vacation in a village near Bath, staying at the estate of an old family friend who has asked his help in getting to the bottom of a rash of strange vandalism. Lenox thinks this will be a low-key distraction from his duties, which include writing a major, lengthy speech to open the next session of Parliament, but the incidents of vandalism have a curious theme that has everyone in the village on edge, a disagreeable new resident has made enemies of half his neighbors, and then things get really bad when the junior constable is found stabbed to death.

This isn't anything especially challenging, but a satisfying little pleasure, good, comfortable curl-up-on-the-couch on a warm day fiction. I've scoffed a little at "cozy" mysteries from time to time in this blog, but Finch really does do his work better than most of his peers, creating a fun and evolving world with a diverse cast of great characters. Happily recommended, and now I need to order the next novel.

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