First Sentence: It was a blustery London morning in the autumn of 1876,
wind and rain heavy in the trees lining Chancery land, and here, damn it
all, stood before Charles Lenox something that nobody should have to
tolerate before breakfast
A famous foreign pianist disappears
from his dressing room, and Lenox’ detective agency is called in to find
him. The pressure is on as a former partner of his firm seems to be
hijacking clients and trying to solve this case before him. However,
Lenox must leave the case to his partners and spend time with his
brother in their childhood home. Things become interesting when a local
insurance agent’s home is broken into, odd items in the town start
disappearing, and a mysterious, rather disquieting, chalk figure appears
in several places.
What a wonderful opening when the author
immediately places you into the environment, and introduces you to the
primary character with whose emotions one can empathize. The inclusion
of the story of the Brontë sisters, is delightful as well as it
establishes the time and place.
Finch as created such a fine
ensemble of characters, particularly with Lenox’ detective agency, that
one becomes involved with them even if one has not read previous books.
They are fully dimensional with backstories that are both brief, yet
Yet it’s Finch’s voice that brings you into the story
with descriptions, facts, information, emotion and just the right touch
of humor. It is style of language—“Lenox had known him for forty years,
since he was a swottish, pedantic boy at the village school, and more or
less the same look of circumspection had been on hi fact the whole
time. He had never in that time evinced any vivacity…”—and the details
of the period which make it fascinating. Small details such as one being
able to read a newspaper were one not able to afford to buy it, an
interesting note on the importance of hats for men, buying a ‘fish
slice’ as a wedding gift, and the history of “the Riot Act,” that bring
the period to life.
The dialogue has a very natural flow with the
language appropriate to the social rank and education of the character
with that between Charles and his brother, showing the closeness and
east of their relationship—“Edmund, you know my days here are yours.”
Edmund nearly smiled. “In that case, I happily transfer ownership of
them to Mr. Hadley, at least temporarily—and hope that he will accept
mine as well, for I am exceedingly curious about what on earth all of
this can mean.” One can also enjoy Lenox’ time with his young daughter.
you are concerned that here is not much mystery to the books, rest
assured. Yet Finch’s approach is gentler and encompasses far more than
just the crimes, including a wonderful passage of Charles’ musings on
those who have passed.
“Home by Nightfall” has a very good plot
with more than one case being handled, plenty of questions, twists, and
revelations that change the course of the investigations. Each of the
cases is brought to very satisfactory conclusions and leaves the reader
anxious for the next book.
HOME BY NIGHTFALL (Hist Mys-Charles Lenox-England-Victorian/1876) – VG Finch, Charles – 9th in series Minotaur Books – Nov 2015
I am a reader and reviewer of mysteries; a compulsive hooker--the crochet kind, not the street kind--and one who never leaves home without my camera. I can be reached at:
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