Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book 99: A Beautiful Blue Death

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch

In one word, I would describe this novel as serviceable. It didn't irritate me, it was easy enough to get through, but it didn't exactly leave me wanting for more. Set in England in the 1860s, it begins when Charles Lenox receives an invite from his neighbor and friend, Lady Jane, who asks him to begin an inquiry into a former maid's death. Charles Lenox is well-to-do and of aristocratic blood, and as a result of all his leisure time, has become a bit of amateur detective or P.I. He also has a strong interest in Roman history and travel. This is the first in series of murder mysteries centered around Lenox. While I didn't guess immediately who the killer was (possibly because I just didn't care enough), I wasn't impressed with his investigative technique - his interviews just seemed weird, and he immediately suspects one person on incredibly flimsy evidence. In fact, I didn't even think there was evidence pointing to that person, really.

Lenox becomes so focused on one aspect of the case that I felt like I had to be reminded that there was a murder investigation going on. There are a lot of other characters throughout that want to help in the investigation, and everyone remains very proper and polite during the whole novel. There was no real action . . . at no point did I start becoming worried about any of the characters. Then again, I guess it was kind of nice to have a murder mystery for once that didn't involve the detective almost getting himself killed because he is seen as a threat.

It almost seemed like they talked more about tea-drinking and sandwiches than anything else. Every time someone visited Lenox or vice versa, there'd be tea and comments on the cold weather. I guess if someone is interested in Victorian England, those touches might be cute but they didn't seem real - none of the characters seemed real, they all seemed like stereotypes someone might have of what proper Victorian English people should behave like. Also, I got a little irritated by how protective Lenox was of Lady Jane - "you talked to Barnard - how brave of you" - really? At what point did that man ever really seem to be a huge danger? A bore maybe. And yes, I realize, Victorian women are supposed to be sheltered but it was a little irritating how much credit she got for doing basically nothing.

I don't really see myself picking up the next in the series unless I run completely out of ideas for books to read - it wasn't fun enough to qualify for trashy or easy reads when I need something light, and I didn't become invested in any of the characters at all.

No comments: