Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Beautiful Blue Death

A Beautiful Blue Death, by Charles Finch

Charles Lenox, gentleman and amateur detective, is asked by a friend to investigate the mysterious death of a servant girl.  It looks like suicide, except for the part where she left a note even though she was illiterate, and died from an incredibly rare, expensive, and fictional poison called bella indigo.  With the help of a tipsy doctor friend, a handy brother in Parliament, and an informer or so, Lenox investigates the girl's death in spite of Scotland Yard and finds a whole lot of secrets.

I felt like this was a meh mystery.  The setting, the characters, the plot--all were OK but lacking real spark or interest to me.  Also I got really tired of the words bella indigo.

There is one scene that was sort of odd.  A wealthy man holds a ball in his lavish London townhouse.  The ballroom is on the first floor, and it's 300 feet across--the size of a football field, with no supporting columns.  There are at least 3 floors above this room, which includes a greenhouse (the servants seem to sleep on the ground floor; I thought they usually had the attics?) and, for the mystery, several tons of gold.  Architecturally speaking, this is quite a house.  And, even odder, the ceiling of the ballroom is "painted with the transit of Venus."

*blink*

The transit of Venus?  Like so?


Maybe he means that the ballroom ceiling is painted with the 1769 observation of the transit of Venus in Tahiti?


Seems unlikely.  I suspect that Finch probably thought it was a fancy way of saying the birth of Venus.


All that aside, I didn't find this mystery terribly compelling or interesting.  I'll read the next one and see if the series improves.  It's in Oxford next time, and I like Oxford...

3 comments:

Phinnea Ravenscroft said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phinnea Ravenscroft said...

That's a shame because the premise sounds good.

Transit of Venus -heh. If the ceiling really were painted with it, how many people would look up and say, "You missed a spot"

Jean said...

You cracked me up with that! :)