Sunday, September 9, 2012
A Burial at Sea Review
I had just started A Burial at Sea last November before my kindle was stolen from the gym and it took me until the summer to start it again. This was the fifth book in the Charles Lenox series and was just as good as the previous novels, even if the cast was almost entirely new, except for Charles, of course.
I first met Charles Lenox in A Beautiful Blue Death and have read all of the other books that he is featured in. Lenox is a Victorian gentleman. He lives in London and spends most of his time relaxing in his armchair, in front of a fire, drinking tea, reading and planning trips. However, he has the reputation of being a brilliant amateur detective. His adventures takes him from the slums of London to Parliament. The mysteries are also interesting and suspenseful and there is also a wealth of historical detail which never becomes boring.
A Burial at Sea removes Charles from his normal surroundings. As a junior member of Parliament, he is being sent to Egypt for a partially diplomatic, partially spy related mission. His wife (former dear friend and neighbor), Lady Jane, is left behind for obvious reasons as is Graham, Charles' former butler and now secretary. He was greatly missing in this novel, as were Charles' close friends Thomas and Toto.
But Charles is still a great character and can stand on his own. He is barely at sea 24 hours when a crewman turns up dead. He begins investigating the murder, while learning about the British navy during the Victorian period. The detail is fascinating for someone like me who doesn't know a lot about naval stuff (outside of pirates. I'm great with pirates). And the mystery is suspenseful because Charles is stuck on a ship and someone is clearly the murderer.
My one complaint is that the murder is solved around 80% into the book and then Charles goes onto Egypt for his mission. I thought that part was a bit unnecessary. It seemed obvious that the killer would return. I guess it was a good look at the role Egypt and the Suez Canal played in the tense relationship between England and France, but I thought it dragged a bit.
Anyway Charles eventually makes it home in the last page or so of the book and the author, Charles Finch, sets up the domestic adventures that Lenox will face in the next book, A Death in the Small Hours. If you've read other Charles Lenox books, this is just as good as the previous ones. And if you haven't but you like mysteries or historical novels, this is an excellent series to jump into, starting with A Beautiful Blue Death.
Buy it at amazon or Barnes and Noble