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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 in USA  Nov 2015
    304 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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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.
Nancy M. (Highlands Ranch, CO)

Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch
I love books that are part of a series. This is the ninth book in the Charles Lenox Series of mysteries and is a good read on its own. I was lucky to have started with the first book in the series, A Beautiful Blue Death, chosen as one of the Library Journal's best books of 2007. I then read the subsequent books in the order in which they were written. I recommend this approach to the reader.

This ninth book, as are all of the books in the series, is set in Victorian England in the 1880's. Charles Lenox is a gentleman who has chosen to be an amateur sleuth. The atmosphere is what one hopes for. Charles is often found in his private study viewing soft rain and dense smog out the window, with a good book, cup of tea and a roaring fire to keep him warm.

Yet the aristocratic detective leaves this to fight the depravity and death that is all too common in Victorian London. To our delight his quest takes us to mansions and servant quarters as well as Parliament and Oxford. The characters develop naturally, the plot is interesting, and the suspense palatable. So pull up your chair and enjoy a good read whether it be this book or the whole series.
Mark O. (Wenatchee, WA)

An Upper-class Mystery
"Home by Nightfall" seems more akin to historical fiction than mystery; the murder seems accessory to the story. This is the Victorian England of Sherlock Holmes. But the sleuth-protagonist , Charles Lenox, is a member of the gentry and the detecting is more teamwork and legwork than eccentric genius. There are two mysteries afoot, the primary mystery evolving in the rural market town near the Lenox familial estate. We meet characters from most of the Victorian social strata through the noblesse oblige of Charles and family. This is the ninth of the Charles Lenox mysteries but my first. I enjoyed this dignified mystery so I'm looking forward to a long read, starting from book one.
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