An Extravagant Death by Charles Finch @CharlesFinch @MinotaurBooks @sophiarose1816

Posted February 17, 2021 by Sophia in Book Review / 12 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

An Extravagant Death by Charles Finch @CharlesFinch  @MinotaurBooks @sophiarose1816An Extravagant Death by Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries #14
Published by Minotaur Books on February 16, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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London, 1878. With faith in Scotland Yard shattered after a damning corruption investigation, Charles Lenox's detective agency is rapidly expanding. The gentleman sleuth has all the work he can handle, two children, and an intriguing new murder case.

But when a letter arrives with an unexpected invitation, he's unable to resist the call of an old, unfulfilled yearning: to travel to America. Arriving in New York, he begins to receive introductions into both its old Knickerbocker society and its new robber baron splendor. Then, a shock: the suicide of the season's most beautiful debutante, who has thrown herself from a cliff. Or was it a suicide? Her closest friend doesn't think so, and Lenox, sacrificing his plans, travels to the family's magnificent Newport mansion in the guise of an idle English gentleman. What ensues is a fiendsh game of cat and mouse.

After being the driving force behind the bust of biggest corruption scandal of the year, Charles is tired.  He simply wants to spend time with his family and recuperate, but his life turns surreal when he ends up among the Knickerbocker Set and Nouveau Riche of New York and Newport during the glittering Season of America’s Gilded Age… Just in time for murder.

An Extravagant Death is the fourteenth of the Charles Lenox historical mystery series that each present a fresh mystery while the story of the characters progresses forward through the whole series making them best read in order.

In An Extravagant Death, Charles leaves his own world and the author nailed it when he not only presented a different country and society through Charles’ eyes, but painted America’s Post-Civil War and Gilded Age so detailed I felt I was there seeing it all beside Charles.  It was intriguing seeing Charles trying to solve a mystery when some of the culture layered with upper American society was quite confusing to him.  I enjoyed glimpses of their way of life particularly the old Dutch wealthy Knickerbockers who were the American blue bloods next to the new Money Aristocracy like the Astors and Vanderbilts.

Each book in the series, including this one, is a wonderful dichotomy of Charles’ personal journey and his detective work.  One could feel his weariness.  He’s burnt out when he takes the Prime Minister’s not so subtle hints to make himself scarce during the firestorm he stirred up when he exposed the rot within Scotland Yard.  He is of two minds about wanting to follow his dream and travel, but feeling that he needs to be home to see his two little girls growing up and spending time with his wife.  There is an edginess to him as he works to solve the case as a result and a bittersweet tone to the whole story.

As to the mystery, Charles must get past the blank faces and closed doors of those who know more than they realize, don’t want their secrets drawn out, or are wary of the Englishman who is not one of them.  Oddly enough, I figured out the who, why, and how quite early.  Not because I’m brilliant, but simply because I latched on the person early on and saw only mounting evidence as collaboration.  The part that surprised me was at first I was sad because I didn’t want it to be this person, but later saw I was not feeling all that bad about it.  In fact, I kinda wished for a nasty end for this villain.

The last few chapters had me with my heart in my throat and I couldn’t have put the book aside for anything.  Things were left in an interesting spot.  I’ll be curious to see what comes next.  It feels like either the end or a new season of the series is upon us.  In any event, I can heartily recommend this one to historical mystery lovers who like a smart, gentleman-detective and a fab cast of characters surrounding him.


About Charles Finch

My name is Charles Finch – welcome! I’m the author of the Charles Lenox series of historical mysteries, as well as a recent novel about expatriate life in Oxford, THE LAST ENCHANTMENTS. I also write book reviews for the New York Times, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune and essays in many different places.

Like most people on this website, I’m a huge reader. My taste is all over the place, though I tend to really like literary and mystery fiction. Some of my favorite writers: George Orwell, Henry Green, Dick Francis, Anthony Trollope, David Lodge, PG Wodehouse, Bill Bryson, Roberto Bolano, Jonathan Franzen, Shirley Hazzard, Leo Tolstoy, AR Ammons, Philip Larkin, Edgar Bowers, Laurent Binet, Laurie Colwin, Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip Roth, Henrik Ibsen, Geoff Dyer, the list could go forever…

A bit about myself: I was born in New York City, and since then I’ve lived all over the place, in America, England, France…at the moment I’m in Chicago, where I just recently moved. I spend most of my time here writing, reading, walking my dog, and trying not to let my ears freeze off.

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Posted February 17, 2021 by Sophia in Book Review / 12 Comments

12 responses to “An Extravagant Death by Charles Finch

  1. Jen

    Yea!! It sounds like even after all those books that the mysteries stay fresh and stories remain exciting. Glad you are enjoying.

  2. I enjoy reading stories set in this era, as you know. I will definitely look up the first book. Wonderful review, Sophia Rose! 🙂

    • Totally get that. In fact, I do the same thing. I spent the last part of December until first part of February getting caught up on this series finally. 🙂 Love the CS Harris series for Regency period and this one is great in Victorian.