Another Helene Hanff stunner.
How-to nonfiction.

Fiction Interlude: Still a solid Victorian mystery series.

I have always enjoyed Charles Finch's Charles Lenox mystery series, set in Victorian England. I'm not much of a mystery reader and the Victorian era isn't my favorite in British history, but I was originally drawn to the first book because of its beautiful cover, and each book in the series has shared the same style (to good effect, I think, they're always quite visually striking).

Every now and then I simply check my local library catalog for "Charles Finch" and see if he's come out with a new one, and last month I was not disappointed--I found the seventh book in the series, An Old Betrayal. In this installment, gentleman detective and esteemed Member of Parliament Charles Lenox finds himself ever more conflicted in his desire to be a good politician while also still pursuing his real love, which is crime detection. The story features a damsel in distress, two murders, and eventually, a dastardly plot involving high-level burglary and treason.

Mr. CR read the book too (as he has read most of the books in this series, when I bring them home) and found it a serviceable read. I enjoyed it, although I think Finch is starting to phone these books* in just a little bit. You really only notice when he is trying to work in some period detail or information and the best way he can find to do it is in parentheticals or asides.** And, sadly, what I liked best about the first book in the series was the relationship between Charles Lenox and his neighbor, Lady Jane Grey. Now that they're together the Lady Jane is not given much to do and their conversations don't seem as lively. I'll refrain from making any commentary on what that says about marriage in general.

But these are small quibbles. I still enjoyed the book, and I'm sure I'll read the next one in the series too.

 *And how could he not? He's been publishing one a year, and has written another contemporary novel (The Last Enchantments, just published) during the same time period.

**Yes, yes, I should give you an example of this. But I forgot to mark the proper pages with bookmarks. You'll just have to take my word on it.