book reviews

April 28, 2011 |
Courtesy of Beaverdale Books


Reviewed by Laura Flaugher


'A Stranger in Mayfair'

By Charles Finch

St. Martin's Press



308 pp


This absorbing mystery set in cold and rainy Victorian England features Charles Lenox, a wealthy amateur detective. He lives in a quintessential mansion in the most fashionable section of England, equipped with roaring fireplaces, well-stocked drink tables and stacks of books and maps. He has unimpeded access to all the high-society homes and exclusive clubs in England.

The highly-likeable Lenox darts around town with his dashing protégé Dallington (a young and somewhat debauched ladies man), sips clandestine hot-chocolate with his new wife and gives direction to his precise butler turned Parliamentary clerk Graham (after all, busy Lenox has just been elected to Parliament as well.)

The enticing mystery is the question of who murdered a young footman in the servant's alley of the wealthy Starling home. The suspects include Mr. Starling, who is a member of Parliament, his two sons (one slothful, the other eager) an exacting housewife, a crazy uncle, a respected butler and a number of other servants. The sparse clues include a gold signet ring, a very nice suit and the dead man's scraped-up knuckles. Lenox and Dallington soon realize they have their work cut out for them.

The succulent, sumptuous imagery in this novel is magnetic. The delectable charm and cozy settings inspire lengthy reading sessions as much as the unfolding of the riveting mystery does.

" A Stranger in Mayfair" is the fourth book in the "Lenox" series. While it can be read on its own, I wholeheartedly recommend reading each and every book in the series. CV