Monday, September 12, 2011
RIP CHALLENGE: A Stranger in Mayfair by Charles Finch
Charles, his assistant Dallington, his medical friend McConnell and his butler-turned-parliamentary assistant Graham all help in discovering the death of a young servant worker in a prominent Mayfair household.
The Graham/Lenox relationship will remind readers of Bunter and Wimsey; but somehow, although Finch keeps reminding us of the camaraderie and affection which exists between the two men, we never actually see it. I am told by the narrator that they are fond of each other (knowing each other since Lenox’s youthful Oxford days) and yet Graham is not given enough page time to prove this. The same can be said for the other relationships stranded through the series: I am told that Charles and Lady Jane Grey have a long and meaningful friendship; but it is not demonstrative on page. Hopefully as the series continues, Finch will show the same competence for character development as he does for quietly ushering in plot twists, exuding a wealth of London parliamentary, historical and geographical knowledge and painting a life-like 19th Century world.
The writing style is charming as befits cozies set in this time period: with a knack for intelligence as befits Lenox’s upper-end station. However, the chapter endings seem so dense in their portentous foreshadowing that one is reminded of the cliffhangers in those RL Stine Fear Street mysteries. This is another case in which we are TOLD to feel and fear; rather than shown.
Anne Perry and Dorothy L. Sayers, above all, will find themselves at home here.
We are treated to Lenox’s next adventure in November