The Vanishing Man by Charles Finch

February 20th, 2019 Kimberly Guest Post, Review 25 Comments

20th Feb
The Vanishing Man by Charles Finch
The Vanishing Man
by Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries Prequel #2, Charles Lenox Mysteries #12
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

From the critically acclaimed and USA Today bestselling author Charles Finch comes The Vanishing Man, the second in a prequel trilogy to his Charles Lenox Victorian series, in which the theft of an antique painting sends Detective Lenox on a hunt for a criminal mastermind.

London, 1853: Having earned some renown by solving a case that baffled Scotland Yard, young Charles Lenox is called upon by the Duke of Dorset, one of England's most revered noblemen, for help. A painting of the Duke's great-grandfather has been stolen from his private study. But the Duke's concern is not for his ancestor's portrait; hiding in plain sight nearby is another painting of infinitely more value, one that holds the key to one of the country's most famous and best-kept secrets.

Dorset believes the thieves took the wrong painting and may return when they realize their error--and when his fears result in murder, Lenox must act quickly to unravel the mystery behind both paintings before tragedy can strike again. As the Dorset family closes ranks to protect its reputation, Lenox uncovers a dark secret that could expose them to unimaginable scandal--and reveals the existence of an artifact, priceless beyond measure, for which the family is willing to risk anything to keep hidden.

In this intricately plotted prequel to the Charles Lenox mysteries, the young detective risks his potential career--and his reputation in high society--as he hunts for a criminal mastermind.

historical mystery CRIME well written

I am excited to welcome Sophia Rose back to the blog with another fantastic review. Today she brings us The Vanishing Man by Charles Finch. A historical mystery set in London, 1853. The case is one that has Scotland Yard baffled. Grab a cup of cocoa and check out Sophia’s review.

Sophia Rose’s Review

We come to the second book in a trio of prequel stories in the Charles Lenox series that go back to the beginning when Charles is first getting started on his amateur detecting work.  This latest mystery brings him into contact with the powerful Duke of Dorset’s household, an old family trust involving the Bard, and the true challenge of not murdering his mischievous young cousin Lancelot who is visiting Charles during his school holidays.

The Vanishing Man is the second of a prequel trilogy.   It could be read standalone or I suppose new readers can begin the series with the first book in this prequel and continue on from there.  I think the best way is to start with the series’ release order and the first Charles Lenox mystery because it makes this prequel set more poignant knowing what is to come of it in the lives of the characters.

Charles just came off a case that he solved, but the solution didn’t bring all the satisfaction he wanted.  He made mistakes that cost him.  He is determined to learn all he can to shore up his knowledge so his mistakes will become fewer as time goes on.  He may be the oddity and laughingstock to his peers and betters, but he is set on his path of being a consulting private detective.  Getting a summons from the great Duke of Dorset is an opportunity he cannot pass up especially when the duke shares a secret family trust involving a painting of Shakespeare that only a handful of people know exist.

Busy working on the case the duke presented him, Charles’ life is also filled with his ongoing criminal investigation self-education like his visits to Bedlam each week to interview criminals and his days spent observing pickpockets, and now his chance to shadow a ‘finder’.  His unrequited love for Lady Jane and her marriage that keeps him in the friends category also has her busy attempting marriage matches for him.  Meanwhile, Charles’ annoying cousin and proud owner of a peashooter he uses on Charles keeps him and his household on his toes.  Though, that scene when Lancelot took a pompous duke to task had me laughing so hard that I cried.

Much of the book is a gently paced plot following Charles as he tracks down clues, sorts out the wheat from the chaff, and then noses out the solution.  There is a murder, but it is not the focus of the investigation and only one of the pieces.  I really enjoy the younger detecting Charles and his life at this time, but also the surrounding cast of characters who are always part of his life and work.

And so, the second leg of the prequel trilogy provided an engaging group of mysteries as part of his latest case and I enjoyed being along for this new installment in the Charles Lenox series.  Those who enjoy well described and well-developed plots and characters in Victorian era historical mysteries should take a look-see at this series.

If you enjoy well-developed plots and characters in Victorian era historical mysteries take a look-see at The Vanishing Man by Charles Finch #CharlesLenoxMysteries Click To Tweet
Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

25 Responses to “The Vanishing Man by Charles Finch”

  1. Jen

    I’ve really gotten into historical mysteries with female leads, but I may need to give this a try. Thanks!

    Also… I find it’s a tough call when an author writes a prequel after the start of a main series – do you read chronologically or in release order…. Sounds like this can go either way, but I agree, sometimes knowing what happens after makes the prequel better!

    • Sophia Rose

      Yes! Exactly, Jen. Prequels are tough to decide. I appreciate it when an author does them in a way that is more versatile.

    • Sophia Rose

      I confess this is my favorite historical subgenre, too. If it has romance, fine, but I like the focus on the setting and the mystery. 🙂 Hope you like it when you get the chance, Anne.

    • Sophia Rose

      Yes, Stephanie! There are a few atmospheric moments when he knows he’s being followed and a few times there is pea-soup fog. 🙂

  2. Tracy Terry

    I think I’d be tempted to start with at least this second prequel and work my way from there. That said I’m far from, adverse to beginning a book part way through a series only to find myself back-tracking.

    I love this cover. elegant and what I felt was very atmospheric; it certainly spoke to me.

    • Sophia Rose

      It’s so hard to advice about where to start with this series. I enjoyed the experience of reading it all in release order, but starting with either prequel and going into the series proper would also work, too.
      Yes, these prequel covers are great. I love using the artwork. The covers on the earlier releases are more whimsical with objects related to the crimes laid out. 🙂

    • Sophia Rose

      Sorry to confuse, Debbie.

      This one is the latest release in the series and is the second of three prequels that released after ten books in the series. I was trying to say that I thought I enjoyed it more by reading the regular series or at least several of them first before reading these prequels so that one could see just how far he came as a detective and with his personal life, but, a reader could start with either and do fine. 🙂

  3. Brandee @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

    I know you’ll be shocked, Sophia, but I don’t read many mysteries. 😉 ha! I really do like the sound of Charles Lenox though – the setting in particular but it seems like Finch does a masterful job with character development as well. Oh, and then there are the mysteries. 🙂 So Charles will be going on my tbr. I hope my library has this series!

    • Sophia Rose

      Oh yay! Glad to persuade you into giving the Charles Lennox series a try. They are slower-paced and take a bit to develop through each book, but I’ve enjoyed them. Hope you do, too. 🙂