A Beautiful Blue Death

A Beautiful Blue Death - Charles Finch

I was hoping for either a clever, witty, romp of a mystery or the kind of slow-burn intelligent story that makes me read on to see where it goes. Unfortunately, I never really got either.


Lenox is dull. I hate saying that, I hate feeling that, but he is. He does not manage to ever make me care about him. I really want to. When he starts the book wanting to do nothing but sit by the fire with a book, I felt an instant connection there. Obviously, we were going to be great book friends and this was going to be a joy to read.


It is not.


It is a trudge through a mystery that gets solved oddly early (though not quite early enough, given apparently Lenox is good at this and I am not and I managed to figure it out before he did) and then the book plods along afterward for what feels like a remarkably long time. Part of this is the writing, or perhaps Lenox himself if I'm feeling charitable. It is rambling (hopefully this review is not also rambling, but I feel I can't promise that at this point) and repetitious. Entire pages go by with the same information being conveyed to the reader three different ways. None of it is plot-relevant, and much of it is about the weather.


While Lenox is often called in on cases, I get the idea that he solves many of them through sheer dumb luck. He does pick out some clever things that were missed, admittedly, but he also misses several things that should be glaringly obvious and manages to act like a complete idiot whenever he attempts to interrogate anyone.


In addition to Lenox, we have a crop of other two-dimensional characters that...I don't want to say "populate" because that gives them more life than they really have, but reside in the London explored in this book. Lady Jane is her own special brand of insipid, with bonus points for her being apparently perfect in every way. We never see this, of course, except that she is oddly very kind to Lenox (though perish the thought that they are romantically involved!).


I will not get into the historical oddities present. I'm generally willing to let them slide in historical fiction, honestly, and I'm also more likely to catch them given my history background (which is probably why I'm willing to let them slide, honestly--otherwise I'd have a horrid time reading anything). Suffice it to say that if you are reading this for a valid history lesson or for appropriate language, please find something else instead.


It took me ages to get through this not because I set it aside (I do that all the time) but because it was a slow trek while actively reading it. I was bored. I didn't particularly care about the mystery. I didn't care about the characters. I have a horrible feeling that at some point in the series (this is apparently a series) Lenox and Lady Jane are going to have a slow, boring courtship and I am going to die of ennui while reading it if I dared continue.


This book was provided to me for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.