Monday, December 9, 2013

An Old Betrayal Review

Just about every November, there's a new Charles Lenox mystery released by Charles Finch. I recapped his last two last year: A Burial at Sea and A Death in the Small Hours. This newest book finds Lenox in London, continuing his very busy work as a member of Parliament. Since the last book, he has risen in the ranks to become a very important MP. He spends much of his time on the benches, in meetings and reading blue books of information. He is still happily married to Lady Jane and is a doting, although quite Victorian, father to little Sophia, who is mostly being raised by a nanny as was typical of the time.

As always, Lenox manages to find time to investigate crimes. He remains a mentor to John Dallington, former playboy aristocrat and current detective. Dallington spends the early part of this book gravely ill, which leads to Lenox stepping in and setting off the mystery of the chapter. A plea for help to Dallington leads Lenox to a train station cafe early one morning where he watches for the anonymous person to show up looking for help. He is surprised to discover that the man he was looking for was actually a woman. The woman sees someone who frightens her and flees from the scene before Lenox learns who it was. She was startled by a young man who Lenox speaks with briefly. It quickly appears that this young man is impersonating a nobleman who lives in the country and blackmailing the young woman, who works for the queen.

This one moment at the train station leads to a much larger mystery involving land titles, vengeful nobles and an attack on the queen herself. The woman from the station, Grace, plays only a minimal role, although it seems as though she would be more important. Lenox works with Dallington, while also meeting with two other London detectives. There's also a new investigator on the scene, Miss Strickland, who Lenox is convinced is really a man hiding behind a woman's name or using a woman as the front of the agency. Miss Strickland's agency shows the first hints of modern detecting, employing a fingerprinting expert as well as medical examiners to help solve crimes. Rather than one man acting alone, Strickland's group uses the talents of many different people. Strickland herself isn't exactly what Lenox was expecting but at the end, the surprise itself was a pleasant one with hints of a even more pleasant arrangement for Dallington.

Meanwhile, Lenox deals with Parliament, nasty rumors about his secretary, Graham, and the Prime Minister, Disraeli himself. His dear friend Thomas McConnell and his wife Toto are struggling with their marriage again and of course Lenox's brother, Edmund, makes an appearance. Like the previous books, the mystery itself is wrapped up around 80% into the book and the rest of the novel ties all the little pieces together and sets Lenox on a new course of his life, one which should be quite interesting in the next book. Graham's life also takes on a possibly fascinating new course, so I'm looking forward to seeing what ends up happening to Lenox's former butler.

I was interested to read in the back of the book that Charles Finch wrote a contemporary novel called The Last Enchantments, which will be coming out early in 2014. However, early reviews do not look too good. I'm hoping he doesn't abandon Charles Lenox, as this series always gets good reviews and continues to be engaging even 7 books in.

Buy it at amazon & Barnes and Noble.

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