Home by Nightfall: Book summary and reviews of Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch

Home by Nightfall

A Charles Lenox Mystery

by Charles Finch

Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch X
Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch
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  • Published Nov 2015
    304 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

Blending Charles Finch's trademark wit, elegance, and depth of research, this new mystery, equal parts Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, may be the finest in the series.

It's London in 1876, and the whole city is abuzz with the enigmatic disappearance of a famous foreign pianist. Lenox has an eye on the matter - as a partner in a now-thriving detective agency, he's a natural choice to investigate. Just when he's tempted to turn his focus to it entirely, however, his grieving brother asks him to come down to Sussex, and Lenox leaves the metropolis behind for the quieter country life of his boyhood. Or so he thinks. In fact, something strange is afoot in Markethouse: small thefts, books, blankets, animals, and more alarmingly a break-in at the house of a local insurance agent.

As he and his brother to investigate this small accumulation of mysteries, Lenox realizes that something very strange and serious indeed may be happening, more than just local mischief. Soon, he's racing to solve two cases at once, one in London and one in the country, before either turns deadly.

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Media Reviews

"Well-defined characters enhance the intriguing plot lines." - Publishers Weekly

Reviews of previous books in the series:

"Starred Review. Superb ... Boasting one of Finch's tightest and trickiest plots, this installment further establishes Lenox as a worthy heir to the aristocratic mantle of Lord Peter Wimsey." - Publishers Weekly on A Death in the Small Hours

"The sixth in Finch's steadily improving series develops the congenial continuing characters further while providing quite a decent mystery." - Kirkus on A Death in the Small Hours

"Charles Lenox [is] the gentleman sleuth in this beguiling series…Finch's descriptions of life at sea are so fascinating it's a shame Lenox must bring this case to an end." - Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

"The murder mystery that Finch weaves keeps readers guessing as Lenox must figure out how - and why - the killings are accomplished ... an intriguing read on several levels." - Mary Foster, The Associated Press

"Much of the fun comes from watching Finch channel Patrick O'Brian (Master and Commander) as his landlubber hero finds his sea legs. You'll feel the spray in your face and worry, like the lovely Lady Jane back in England, that Lenox makes it safely home for book six - and the arrival of a new member of the family." -McClurg, USA Today

This information about Home by Nightfall was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Lennox at his best
Charles Finch has done it again. He has written an engaging, multi-faceted mystery for his well-honed detective, Charles Lennox, to resolve. Replete with historical insights and intriguing details about London and country life in the late nineteenth century Victorian England, this reader enjoys his works for these insights alone. The addition of a good parlor mystery only makes Finch’s novels that much more enjoyable. His cast of supporting characters has been carefully and effectively developed over time, without any of the predictability or triteness of some writer’s casts. Flawed yet sympathetic, his now familiar characters return as genuine friends for the reader to greet. Finch’s works have matured over time as he has refined his nuanced characters and creative plots. I look forward to his next work.

Karen M. (Great Falls, VA)

I love the Charles Lennox Mysteries
I am a big fan of the work of Charles Finch. I have been with him since his first novel, "A Beautiful Blue Death." When his seventh book in the series, "Home by Nightfall," arrived, I sat down and absorbed the tale in one sitting. You can start with this book without reading the rest, but what I really admire about gentleman detective Charles Lennox, and his fellow characters, is that they evolve through their experiences in each book. If you skipped to the seventh book without reading the other books, you might not appreciate how the author's writing has grown, along with the characters. Many mystery series give you your favorite sleuth, but he or she is always the same familiar character. To me, this book feels like real people living during the Victorian era. The author's development of "place" is spot on.

Mr. Finch knows his Victoriana. I have studied British Victorian novels for decades and I have found a fellow enthusiast through this series. Recently I read a debut novel set in the same period. And the author worked so hard to make sure that we smelled, saw, and experienced all the raw grossness and violence of the time that I could barely find my way to the narrative. Not so with this series. Mr. Finch balances the good and the bad and yet I feel his tale is authentic.

Since Book Six, tragedy has occurred. Charles has left for the country manor to be with his recently widowed brother. We learn a lot about their childhoods and how they were pulled apart as they grew up. There are mysterious, almost supernatural, deaths occurring in the village, and Charles and his brother team up to try to solve them. He calls in his usual cast of characters to help him. And his wife, a very lively heiress herself, and mother of their children, plays a more important role than in the past. She is very well-connected socially and is able to gather all sorts of knowledge.

Charles has also left his political life to open his own detective agency in London with an interesting group of sleuths. He has to dash back and forth between Sussex and London to try and solve a sensitive political death. The constant racing between the two places and against the clock, seemed to follow a trend I find in many recent mystery books by authors writing in the "classic" vein. I disagree with the book blurb that Finch's latest was similar to a Dickens or Austen book. This book was more of a thriller, designed to elevate one's pulse. There's considerable suspense. "Home by Nightfall" is more genre-bending compared to his previous Lennox books. I rated it a 4.5. Only Dickens and Louise Penny receive a 5.

Therese X. (Calera, AL)

An Engaging Victorian Mystery
Having enjoyed the first novel by Charles Finch, A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH, an engrossing Victorian mystery featuring "gentleman sleuth", Charles Lenox and his charming friend, Lady Jane Grey who gives Charles his first mystery, I was interested in continuing the series. He even had a clever, helpful butler who could help in more ways than one and the atmosphere was well done with subtle hints of humor. Sadly, the second novel, which was well written with a good mystery, was torture to read for a devoted ailurophile and I abandoned the series. Much later, this most recent novel came to my attention as being the ninth in the series so there must be something to Charles Lenox that grew into quite a series, with Lenox as a famous detective and I was curious. This latest story brings the time well forward as Charles, feeling his age slowing him down, leisurely reads of the disappearance in London of a famous German pianist and a bare flicker of interest is felt. Before he can decide to investigate, his newly-widowed brother, Edmund requests his company in the quiet town of Markethouse where they grew up. Thinking he is leaving excitement behind him, Charles encounters unusual happenings for their small town when an insurance investigator engages his services with reports of break-ins, a face in the window and a mysterious chalk drawing outside the worried man's house. Both Charles and his brother are kept busy, frantic and confused as they attempt to solve the small town mystery as well as coming up against the mysterious musician case again in a true race against time. The author writes of the various levels of society with delightfully quirky characters you might find in a Dickens novel, but with subtle humor and an atmosphere of the reality of the era which keeps the reader's interest moving with the pages. I am now curious about those other novels which were going on while I was away from this series.

Zonetta G. (Winter Springs, FL)

Victorian Gentleman Sleuth
This is my first Charles Lenox mystery and I plan to read the series. In a way, it puts me in mind of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series in that the setting, the characters, the writing bring a warmth and charm to the story without being cloying. Two mysteries running simultaneously works well and the plot moves along nicely. Twists and turns enhance the plot. I like the idea of a gentleman sleuth in the Victorian era. A good read.

Laurette A. (Rome, NY)

A Satisfying Read
This is my first "Charles Lenox" mystery, but it won't be my last. It was very good. Charles and his brother Edmund are particularly well-developed and I enjoyed their interplay. The two mysteries kept me interested and I enjoyed the different character's gentle humor throughout the book. The author did a very good job of moving things along. A nice read indeed. Looking forward to reading the preceding books as well as those to follow.

Cheryl G. (Scottsdale, AZ)

Fun, Quick read
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked Charles' simultaneous investigations on two unrelated cases and his travels between London and the outskirts. I found the quirky villagers amusing, and the characters were well developed. I think this book would be a great read for a not-too serious book club.

...15 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Charles Finch Author Biography

Photo: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Charles Finch is the USA Today bestselling author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, including the most recent, The Woman in the Water (February 2018). His first contemporary novel, The Last Enchantments, is also available from St. Martin's Press. Finch received the 2017 Nona Balakian Citation Award, for excellence in reviewing, from the National Book Critics Circle. His reviews and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere. He lives in Chicago with his family.

Charles Lenox series order (as of 2015)

  1. A Beautiful Blue Death (2007)
  2. The September Society (2008)
  3. The Fleet Street Murders (2009)
  4. A Stranger in Mayfair (2010)
  5. A Burial at Sea (2011)
  6. A Death in the Small Hours (2012)
  7. An Old Betrayal (2013)
  8. ...

... Full Biography
Link to Charles Finch's Website

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