Charles Lexnox Mystery, No 5
November 8, 2011 / ISBN: 0312625081
Historical Mystery / Private Investigator / England / 1873/Victorian
by L J Roberts
He gazed out at the sunfall from an open second-floor window,
breathing deeply of the cool salt air, and felt it was the first
calm moment he had known in days.
life has undergone significant changes. He is recently married,
is about to become a father, has given up investigation and is a
Member of Parliament. Yet the newly-dug Suez Canal has strained
relations between England and France has Charles boarding ship on
a secret mission. However, when a brutal murder occurs aboard ship,
it is Charles' old skills which must be applied to finding the killer.
It is the characters which draw me back to this series, time after
time. Charles is an investigator, not of bravado and daring acts,
but of intelligence, determination, and decency. There is a particularly
delightful scene of his reaction to a progressive woman he meets
in Egypt, signaling the changes times in social culture. Lady Jane,
although in a cameo role here, is a character one can't help but
love. It was nice to learn the background of their relationship.
Yet it is Lenox's ship steward, the ever-eating, ever efficient
McEwan, who almost steals the story. One does hope he'll show up
in future books.
Finch paints a fascinating picture of live aboard ship; the structure
and the disparity of ship-life between the officers and the men-it
makes one thinks of today's news. The descriptions of the food and
meals were hunger-making. I also appreciated learning the history
of the Suez Canal and all the historical information seamlessly
woven into the story. The ship's encounter with an American warship
was wonderfully done and very interesting.
The plot, however, did suffer a bit. The unmasking of the killer
felt abrupt; the inclusion of his being in Egypt superfluous except
for the final dramatic, and rather delightfully done, capture of
the killer. Then there were the portents at chapter ends; completely
unnecessary and had the effect of diminishing, rather than enhancing,
the feeling of suspense.
A Burial at Sea has suspense, but it is mild. It is a perfect
read for those who like their books character-driven, who want something
more than a cozy, but not all that dark. It is a series I thoroughly