Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Inheritance by Charles Finch

First Sentence:  London was silent with snow, soft flakes of it dropping evenly into the white streets, nobody outside who had somewhere inside to be.
Private Enquiry Agent receives a rather cryptic request for help from an old boarding school friend whom he has not seen for many years.  It was a private bequest which allowed Gerald Leigh to attend Harrow, and now he has been notified of a second, even more generous entitlement.  Leigh has been attacked once and now when they go to question the attorney, they find him murdered.  Between East End gangs, and members of the Royal Society, Lenox has his hands full keeping his friend alive while solving a mystery.
Finch is a wonderfully evocative writer.  From the opening paragraph, you are in the room with Lenox and a scene eminently relatable to anyone who has lived in a snowy climate.  He then sets the stage for suspense and introduced us to the characters, all in a very concise, economical fashion.  Finch is very good at providing background information on the characters as they enter the story.  If one is a fan of British detective shows, one might smile at the character of “Inspector Frost.”
One of the pleasures of reading historicals, is the small bits of information one learns—the genesis of “cabs,” why the English drive on the left while American drive on the right, and the changes brought about in the Victorian age, including fish and chips.  It is also, sadly, interesting to note the disparity between the salaries of man and women, and the conflict between science and politics. To further establish the sense of time, we have mouth-watering descriptions of food—“Baked mullets came out to the table; rissoles, and roast fowl, and macaroni with parmesan cheese, and sea-kale; for dessert there was a laudably enormous charlotte russe placed at the center of each table, with vanilla hard sauce trickling down its sides.”
Dialogue is a strength of Finch’s, particularly that between Lenox and his brother Edmund—“What shall we do now?” Edmund had asked.  “We could have a look around Truro.”  “Yes, that should be a thrilling eight minutes.”          
The Inheritance” is wonderfully done with excellent arcs to the story, with rises and falls in the suspense, and a delightful ending.

THE INHERITANCE (Hist Mys-Charles Lennox-England-1877) – Ex
      Finch, Charles – 10th in series
      Minotaur Books, Nov 2016

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