Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Fleet Street Murders-Charles Finch

The Fleet Street Murders
Charles Finch
Minotaur, Nov 10 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312565510

Amateur sleuth (Now called private investigators) Charles Lennox is busy and torn in different directions. Two men in London of 1866 are killed minutes apart. Winston Caruthers, writer and editor of the conservative Daily Telegraph and Simon Pierce who worked for the liberal Daily News are the victims. Besides working for newspapers, the only other thing they had in common is each testified against Jonathan Poole, a traitor to England. Inspector Exeter believes Hiram Smith killed them, but he dies in his jail cell in what looks like a suicide.

Exeter arrests Poole’s son, but there are people close to the case who believe the inspector has the wrong man in custody again. They ask Charles to look into the matter, but he has no time to take on the complex homicides because he is running for Minster of Parliament from Stirrington. His opponent uses dirty tricks to win by a hundred votes so Charles turns back to the case and begins to put the puzzle pieces together until he believes he knows who the culprit is, but lacks proof. Trying to catch evidence against a diabolical killer puts Charles in harms way with the distinct potential of being the next investigation for Exeter to bungle.

Charles Finch writes about the birth of Scotland Yard and how the police there change their methodology to meet their mandate. Amateur sleuths, the forerunners of private investigators, used whatever was available in mid nineteenth century London to solve cases. Charles is one of them, but works closely with Scotland Yard to bring down the shadowy puppeteer pulling everyone’s strings. This is an entertaining Victorian mystery as the audience and Mr. Lennox try to solve who is behind the homicides and why. Fans will want to read Charles’ previous investigations (see A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH and SEPTEMBER SOCIETY).

Harriet Klausner

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