Thursday, July 24, 2008

The September Society-Charles Finch

The September Society
Charles Finch
St. Martin's, Aug 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 0312359780

In 1866 having solved A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH, Charles Lenox considers himself a competent sleuth; though an amateur since he does not accept a fee. Because he is well to do and highly connected, Charles can select when he chooses to go detecting. When widow Lady Annabelle Payson, whose husband mysteriously died in India in the 1840s, pleads with him to find her son George, a student at Oxford's Lincoln College who vanished, he agrees.

At the student’s room, Charles finds some odd clues starting with a dead cat, garage spewed everywhere, enigmatic notes that make no sense, and a card from some group called the SEPTEMBER SOCIETY. However, the biggest clue is George’s friend Dabney is also missing. Fearing foul play, Charles calls in favors to assist him as his concerns over George’s safety multiplies when a corpse is found and signs point back two decades to India.

Charles’ second investigation is a fun Victorian mystery that has the hero running back and forth between London and Oxford trying not to just solve the case, but to do with his client’s son alive. The inquiry is rather straightforward in spite of Charles treks either to obtain assistance or follow a clue, but historical mystery fans will enjoy his efforts and his realization he needs help to crack the case. Fans will enjoy this fine pre Holmesian nineteenth century English tale mostly because of the lead character.

Harriet Klausner