Tuesday, July 1, 2008
A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
There have been many (too many) redos, continuations, re-imaginings, and spin-offs of Sherlock Holmes. Being a big fan, I've read quite a few of them. Most are not worth reading (though my recent favorite is Michael Chabon's The Final Solution). Charles Finch has come up with a wonderful alternative, a way for readers to be in the world of Sherlock Holmes without it being subject to the expectations and scrutiny that would come with his using that character.
A Beautiful Blue Death introduces readers to Charles Lenox, an amateur detective in Victorian London. He seems almost to be Holmes' rich, aristocratic brother; Lenox's friend, and assistant, is a doctor who could be a school friend of Watson's; and, of course, the art of careful observation and deduction is the key to Lenox's success. I won't give away the mystery (it involves a rare, blue poison), but it was very satisfying. There's even a bit of possible romance that I always wished for in the Holmes stories.
I plan to read the next two in this series coming this summer - The September Society (in paperback) and The Fleet Street Murders (in hardcover). I'm hoping they'll be equally well-done fun.