November 18, 2014

The Laws of Murder

By Charles Finch
Review by
Charles Finch's refined gentleman sleuth is a man of quiet honor and determination.
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Detective Charles Lenox is back doing what he loves—but will the money follow?

After a successful career as one of London’s top private investigators, Lenox took a seat in Parliament, but after six years as an MP he still misses the excitement and adrenaline rush of his old profession, and so he relinquishes his seat to start a new detective agency with three other associates—the first of its kind in England.

After several months, however, cases for Lenox have mysteriously dried up, and he’s not holding his own by bringing new assignments to the agency. He fears he’s become a drag on their ever-diminishing financial resources. Then an old friend and former colleague at Scotland Yard is murdered, and that famous crime-solving agency calls him once more into the fray.

With The Laws of Murder, author Charles Finch has penned the eighth book in his Victorian mystery series set in jolly old murderous England. Like the previous seven books in the series, it features his refined gentleman sleuth, a man of quiet honor and determination, whose high principles never diminish his ability to get around the city and ferret out the secrets of the Londoners he encounters.

The storyline is introduced with the brutal murder of Lenox’s former colleague and the subsequent discovery of the body of a wealthy marquess known for his cruelty and excesses. Finch uses a series of clever details to advance the story, in an engrossing and never formulaic puzzle worthy of the best Golden Age mysteries of yore. Each clue and character engages another aspect of the plot: Readers, along with Lenox, contend with an unlaced boot; a mysterious luggage ticket; a forbidding gated convent whose inhabitants have taken a vow of silence; locked cargo holds aboard a ship bound for Calcutta; a knife attack on the butler; and a case of poisoned wine. The detective must also search for a man whose name appears at every turn but whose location and true identity remain unknown.

In addition to the pursuit of a killer, the detective agency faces a downhill spiral, as one by one Lenox’s fellow detectives must decide whether to depart the agency or continue on as they’re bedeviled by curiously negative reports in the press.

Readers who like an intricate, realistic plot and spot-on period details will put this fine series at the top of their reading lists.

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The Laws of Murder

The Laws of Murder

By Charles Finch
ISBN 9781250051301

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