By Charles Finch
Rating: 5/5 Stairs
Expected Publication: 16 February 2021
Which begins like this:
It was an icy, brilliantly sunny late morning in February 1878, and a solitary figure, lost in thought, was walking along one of the pale paths winding through St. James’s Park in London.
He was a lean gentleman of middling height, with a walking stick clasped behind his back. Aside from him the park was all but empty, its grass frozen a stiff whitish arctic green, and the ruts in its muddy pathways – made by carriages during a thaw the week before – hardened into solid relief. For a moment he paused to gaze at these random tracks where they had frozen in place, and it occurred to him that human affairs, too, could unexpectedly take decisive shape just when everything seemed to be in flux.An Extravagant Death, Charles Finch
While this is book #14, don’t let that stop you from picking up this latest outing in the Charles Lenox series. I’ve only read a couple of earlier books in the series, and I had no trouble jumping ahead.
Charles Lenox is a “gentleman detective” who typically solves cases in London, but is sent abroad to America for this book. Soon after arriving, a suspicious death occurs, and of course Lenox agrees to investigate. The case brings Lenox right in the middle of Newport’s high society to try and find answers.
Mr. Finch has a gift of transporting the reader to another time and place with his writing. It was such fun to visit this particular time in history – March 1878 at the height of the Gilded Age and right in the center of possibly the most lavish, extravagant people in opulent society, and see it all through Lenox’s eyes. So much splendor! But Lenox is not blinded by the extravagance and also sees the people outside of high-society as well.
The mystery itself is both straightforward and complex at the same time. There are plenty of suspects, and Newport even feels like a character itself. This is a slow-paced, descriptive novel; it’s a page turner but I wouldn’t say it’s a fast read. It’s a book to savor. Enjoy!
Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book for review.