Charles Lenox is torn. He loves his self-appointed career of amateur detective and hungers to solve the most recent mystery to hit London: the twin murders of two of Fleet Street’s most noted journalists. Stronger even than his desire to aid Scotland Yard is his love for his new fiancee and long-time friend, Lady Jane Grey. Every moment in her presence is bliss. But when tragedy strikes the marriage of their best friends, Toto and Thomas McConnell, Jane begins to doubt their own future. Charles’ heart is broken by her uncertainty and he longs to put her fears to rest, but finds himself unable to reassure her. The last pull on his heart and time comes from the crown and his desire to serve it. Dutifully, he follows the call to the small town of Stirrington where he hopes to be elected as their Member for Parliament. The fight against his opponent, a local beer owner, will be a hard one and Charles must give all of his attention to the election, forgetting London’s mystery and his apparently imperiled engagement. While campaigning, Charles learns to better understand the lives of the townspeople – so very unlike his own – and gains an eye-opening look into the shadier side of politics. He can’t keep his attention from wandering back to London, however, especially when he hears of a new tragedy following on the heels of the recent murders. With the help of Dallington, his new apprentice, Lenox uncovers a strange trail of clues that leads to a man he has long suspected of treachery. Though it seems doubtful at first, the anxiety leading to the election, the worry about his engagement and the growing threat of a murderer unknowingly welcome in the best homes in London all end in a satisfying conclusion that leaves the reader longing for more.
This book has everything a historical mystery buff could ask for: a likable hero, a richly depicted historical setting and several well-built, complex plots that crescendo nicely to their resolution. With each new installment, Mr. Finch has added to the depth of his characters and setting, creating a series that is remarkable for its quality and scope. In truth, I find I like it even better than the works of the old masters of mystery including Sayers, Christie and Marsh. Every book feels like a history lesson and thrilling suspense novel rolled into one, with a bit of low-key romance thrown in for fun. The Fleet Street Murders left me hungering for more Lenox…I can’t wait to read the next in the series!