Sunday, January 14, 2018
The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch
I've read many of Charles Finch's Charles Lennox historical mysteries and enjoyed them. The Woman in the Water is unusual because it details the first investigation by a very young Lennox, who is determined to become a detective, treading cautiously between youthful hubris and social hierarchies, learning as he goes.
Sometimes young Lennox makes mistakes and looks foolish, but his occasional flashes of insight outstrip his missteps. He is balancing so much at once: his eagerness and lack of experience; his social life and the derision of many of his peers; his love for Elizabeth with her newly married status; his frustrations with dealing with his housekeeper; his reluctance to take the salary of a Scotland Yard consultant; his father's illness; and his love and jealousy of his brother.
An anonymous letter claiming to have committed the "perfect murder" claims the interest of both Lennox and his friend and valet Graham. The two spend time each day cutting articles out of the paper and comparing them for possible criminal investigations that might be stepping stones for an aspiring detective. Then the body of the first victim, a young woman, her body enclosed in a trunk washes ashore. There are few clues, but Lennox manages to become involved in the investigation (here, family connections help his cause). The letter writer promises more perfect murders, and Charles races to prevent another murder.
In contrast to the more experienced detective in the later books, it is interesting to see how the young Charles Lennox begins to learn and practice his trade.
Read in Dec.; blog review scheduled for Feb. 14, 2018.
St. Martin's Press/Minotaur
Historical Mystery. February 20, 2018. Print version: 304 pages.