by Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries Prequel #2, Charles Lenox Mysteries #12
Genres: Historical, Mystery
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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.
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