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A Death in the Small Hours (Charles Lenox Series #6)

A Death in the Small Hours (Charles Lenox Series #6)

4.3 16
by Charles Finch, James Langton

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Charles Lenox is at the pinnacle of his political career and is a delighted new father. His days of regularly investigating the crimes of Victorian London now some years behind him, he plans a trip to his uncle's estate in the expectation of a few calm weeks. When he arrives in the quiet village of Plumley, however, what greets him is a series of strange vandalisms


Charles Lenox is at the pinnacle of his political career and is a delighted new father. His days of regularly investigating the crimes of Victorian London now some years behind him, he plans a trip to his uncle's estate in the expectation of a few calm weeks. When he arrives in the quiet village of Plumley, however, what greets him is a series of strange vandalisms upon the local shops. Only when a far more serious crime is committed does he begin to understand the great stakes of those events, and the complex and sinister mind that is wreaking fear and suspicion in Plumley. Now, with his protege at his side, the race is on for Lenox to find the culprit before he strikes again.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1874, Finch’s superb sixth mystery (after 2011’s A Burial at Sea) finds former private investigator Charles Lenox now an influential member of Parliament. Lenox accepts the honor of giving the opening speech for the new parliamentary session, which could be the prologue to further government advancement. To prepare, he accepts his uncle’s invitation to visit the uncle’s estate in the village of Plumbley, which has been afflicted by bizarre acts of vandalism: someone drew a picture of a man hanging from a noose on the doors of two local merchants, and the Roman numeral for 22 was painted on the church door. The stabbing murder of a 19-year-old young man raises the ante. Lenox welcomes the chance to resume detecting, “his truest vocation.” Boasting one of Finch’s tightest and trickiest plots, this installment further establishes Lenox as a worthy heir to the aristocratic mantle of Lord Peter Wimsey. Agents: Kari Stuart and Jennifer Joel, ICM. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

“Superb . . . Boasting one of Finch's tightest and trickiest plots, this installment further establishes Lenox as a worthy heir to the aristocratic mantle of Lord Peter Wimsey.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“The murder mystery that Finch weaves keeps readers guessing.” —Mary Foster, The Associated Press on A Burial at Sea

“Finch vividly brings 1860s London to life [and] effortlessly inhabits his compassionate hero.” —USA Today on A Stranger in Mayfair

“Beguiling. . . . Character is very much at the core of these whodunits.” —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review on The Fleet Street Murders

Library Journal
Away from London this time, Victorian sleuth Charles Lenox finds a strange evil surging through the normally placid village of Plumley. Protégé John Dallington helps out in the series's sixth title (after A Burial at Sea).
Kirkus Reviews
A member of Parliament prefers investigating over speechifying. Even though he's still called upon for advice by his protégé John Dallington, Charles Lenox has long since given up his practice as an investigator. A newborn daughter and a request from his party to give the opening speech at a Parliamentary session carry him even further away from his former career. So would an invitation from his uncle Frederick Ponsonby to bring his family for a visit to his lovely estate in Plumbley, Somerset--if it weren't sharpened by a hint of mysterious vandalism. Deciding that it just may be the perfect place for the peace and quiet he needs to write his speech, Charles repairs with his wife, Jane, their infant, Sophie, and her nursemaid, the formidable Miss Taylor, to Plumbley, where Charles looks more closely into several cases of apparently senseless property damage. The case takes on a more serious turn when a young police constable is found stabbed to death. The locals are suspicious of Capt. Musgrave, a retired naval officer who married a local girl and moved to the village. His wife is rarely seen, and most of his neighbors are convinced that he's mistreating her. Charles has the help of Dallington, who's staying with them in disgrace after a drunken spree. Then, Freddie is kidnapped, and Charles must do everything possible to solve the crime and rescue his beloved uncle. The sixth in Finch's steadily improving series (A Burial at Sea, 2011, etc.) develops the congenial continuing characters further while providing quite a decent mystery.

Product Details

Dreamscape Media
Publication date:
Charles Lenox Series , #6
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 5.43(h) x 1.09(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One:

Lady Jane reached the bottom of the stairs. She was a pretty woman, in rather a plain way, dark-haired and at the moment pale, wearing a gray dress with a pink ribbon at the waist. Above all the impression she left on people was of goodness—or perhaps that was the impression she left primarily on Lenox, because he knew her so well, and therefore knew that quality in her. For many long years they had been dear friends, living side by side on Hampden Lane; now, still to his great surprise, they were man and wife. They had married four years before.

Better still, to add to his great happiness and evergreen surprise, at long last they had received a blessing that made him stop and smile to himself at random moments throughout every day, as he just had in his study, a blessing that never failed to lift his spirits above the intransigent tedium of politics: a daughter, Sophie.

She had been theirs for three months, and every day her personality developed in new, startling, wonderful directions. Almost every hour he snuck away from his work to glimpse her, sleeping or better yet awake. Granted, she didn’t do much—she was no great hand at arithmetic, as Lady Jane would joke, seldom said anything witty, would prove useless aboard a horse—but he found even her minutest motions enchanting. Babies had always seemed much of a muchness to him, but how wrong he had been! When she wriggled an inch to the left he found himself holding his breath with excitement.

After Jane had gone downstairs to arrange his lunch with the butler and the cook, Lenox remained in the hall, where he opened his letter. It was from his uncle Frederick, a relation of Lenox’s late mother.

Dear Charles,

Please consider this a formal invitation to come down for a week or two, with Jane of course and the new Lenox; I very much want to meet her. The garden is in fine shape, and then, Fripp is very anxious to have you for the cricket, which takes place Saturday week. I haven’t seen you in more than a year, you know.

Yours with affection,

Frederick Ponsonby

Postscript: To sweeten the pot, shall I mention that in town, recently, there have been a series of strange vandalisms? The police cannot make head or tail of them and so everyone is in great stir. Perhaps you might lend a hand.

Lenox smiled. He was fond of his uncle, an eccentric man, retiring and very devoted to his small, ancient country house, which lay just by a village. Since the age of four or five Lenox had gone there once a year, usually for a fortnight, though it was true that the stretches between visits had gotten longer more recently, as life had grown busier. Still, there was no way he could leave London just at this moment, with so many political matters hanging in the balance. He tucked the note into his jacket pocket and turned back to his study.


Copyright © 2012 by Charles Finch

Meet the Author

Charles Finch is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, including The Fleet Street Murders, The September Society and A Stranger in Mayfair. His first novel, A Beautiful Blue Death, was nominated for an Agatha Award and was named one of Library Journal's Best Books of 2007, one of only five mystery novels on the list. He lives in Oxford, England.

James Langton trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. An AudioFile Earphones Award winner, he has performed many voice-overs and narrated numerous audiobooks, including the international bestseller The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud by Julia Navarro. He is also a professional musician who led the internationally renowned Pasadena Roof Orchestra from 1996 to 2002. James was born in York, England, and is now based in New York City.

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A Death in the Small Hours 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Charles Lenox is enjoying his job in parliament even though he had to cut down on his detective work. Luckily John Dallington is willing to take over this business. At times Dallington still has questions about his investigations, which allows Charles to still feel as though he still involved. But as a Member of Parliament, he feels that he has the ability to make a large difference for those in need. He is also excited with being a new father. (As a side note – it is very interesting to see how the Victorians’ raised their children as it very different from today.) Charles goes to Plumley (near his uncle's estate) to write a speech in the laid back countryside but instead finds himself investigating vandalism and then murder. Sometimes the country is not as quiet and peaceful as one would imagine. With the help of Dallington, he is able to track the killer and try to prevent the next murder. The only negative to this book and this series is that the book’s pacing is on the slow side. Personally I enjoy books where the pace is a little faster. I do not want to be “distracted” to the plot as the author goes through the working of Parliament etc. I am just not interested in that. I want to get to the action. Yet, I do enjoy this series. Charles is a solid upstanding gentlemen and does work hard to change the world. I just fear that he is going to be forced to pick one side (investigation vs parliament) as he did not juggle everything well. At times I felt exhausted after reading about his long long day and then the fact that he stays up late to read briefs he should have read instead of investigating.
nuee More than 1 year ago
Drawing rooms, big gardens, sleek fast horses, so much elegance that you wish more murders had been committed. Lenox is quite posh, smart, devoted; solves crimes and works parliament when not busy. Pleasant reading but don't doubt it is well-written.
Cuchillo More than 1 year ago
My wife and I have read all of Charles Finch's Charles Lenox murder mysteries and enjoy them all. This one was as good as the others. At first I thought the story was going to go on and on about Lenox's work as a member of Parliament, but it did not. The story moved quickly to a rural estate where the mystery and Lenox's efforts to solve it unfolded; lots of action, complex plots, and a beautiful 19th century rural England atmosphere enveloped the story. We like the characters and the very well crafted murder mystery with complex plots. I hope other stories in this sequence take place in such interesting locations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Charles is all grown-up and mature now. Will Mr. Finch allow Mr. Lenox to became a repectsble member of Parliment? Is this the end of prowling about, causing worry and angst among family and friends? Perhaps Mr. Lenox's slightly degenerent apprentice will continue as the central figure of the series. On the down side, there were too many loose ends flopping about towards the end of this tale. There was an entire romance novel squeezed into the last five chapters. Poor form in that.
RainyGirl More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of the series so it's no surprise I loved the book. I was drawn in from page one, enjoying the writing and the story, and, when I'd put the book down, I half expected to find myself sitting next to an oil lamp instead of my reading lamp, I was so into the 19th century. Great detail, great writing, a good mystery and a happy surprise--I could not ask for more.
psycheEH More than 1 year ago
This is the sixth in a series about an English gentleman, Charles Lenox during the late 1800's in England. Each book gets better and better as he grows and changes. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a lucky find! A well written, and very satisfying read. Happened on this on Book Bub, glad I took a chance on it. Will seek out the first five in the series.
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ADJJ More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book very much. Nice addition to the series.