Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries #7
Published by Minotaur Books on November 12, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
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On a spring morning in London, 1875, Charles Lenox agrees to take time away from his busy schedule as a Member of Parliament to meet an old protégé’s client at Charing Cross. But when their cryptic encounter seems to lead, days later, to the murder of an innocuous country squire, this fast favor draws Lenox inexorably back into his old profession.
Soon he realizes that, far from concluding the murderer’s business, this body is only the first step in a cruel plan, many years in the plotting. Where will he strike next? The answer, Lenox learns with slowly dawning horror, may be at the very heart of England’s monarchy.
Ranging from the slums of London to the city’s corridors of power, the newest Charles Lenox novel bears all of this series’ customary wit, charm, and trickery—a compulsive escape to a different time.
Establishing himself as a gentleman detective, starting a family, and now delivering speeches from the front seats in Parliament, Charles Lenox has come a long way. Yet, sometimes he misses the old detection game and is happy to help out a sick friend with a new intriguing case that twists its way to a rather stunning end.
An Old Betrayal is the seventh in the Charles Lenox Mysteries that each provide a standalone murder mystery, though they work best in order to follow the progression of the characters’ lives.
Set in the 1870s of the Victorian Period and mostly in London, the Charles Lenox mysteries have been engaging from the very first book. Charles is a gentle, thinking man who is affable and tends to be well-liked. His wife is a star in London society because of her genuine interest and kindness. He won his spot in the House of Commons and takes his role as MP seriously. He’s a family man now with a toddling little girl and he tries to support his wife’s social life as an organizer and leader. But, it’s never long before their quiet life gets interrupted…
It is fun to see this sparkling middle-aged couple right back in the middle of things when Charles lands a mystery when Lord John, his detecting protégé falls ill and can’t work his most recent case, when someone is trying to slur Charles’ secretary Graham’s reputation, and when their friends, Thomas and Toto, seem to be in marital difficulties with a mysterious woman in the middle of it. There is much going on, but the book goes along at a steady pace and develops well.
This is an interesting situation because unlike many in the series, the murder doesn’t open the story. In fact, most would think there was no case to work at all, but Charles’ curiosity and nose for trouble has him investigating small curiosities at first. I enjoyed tracking along with him, Lord John, and the police as it grew into something more. I was pleasantly surprised to get the villain right and even the how, but was left baffled until the end over the why.
An amusing aspect of these books are the ‘fun fact’ style details. Like, learning the origin of ‘hogwash’ or exploring the history of the Hanovers arrival on England’s throne. The Victorian world is painted well and the characters are very much part of the world.
I enjoyed the end when Charles took it to the person slandering Graham and considers a new, fresh interest for his life and Grahams. And, was Lord John struck by cupid’s dart finally? I do love the characters of this series and am just as eager to see what goes on with them as much as the mystery.
In summary, An Old Betrayal went from slow and steady to suspenseful with a wonderful cast of characters, historical backdrop, and complex plot. Those who enjoy historical mysteries must put this series on their list.
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