Charles Finch books in order
Charles Finch is an American author of historical mystery and historical fiction books.
Born in New York City, Charles attended Yale University, where he majored in English and History.
He also obtained a Master's degree in Renaissance English Literature from Merton College, Oxford.
Charles loves writing, and is a regular book critic for the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and USA Today.
He currently makes his home in Chicago, having previously lived in England and France.
A good part of his day is spent on reading, writing, walking his dog, and trying to ensure his ears don't freeze off.
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
- The Last Enchantments (2014)
Charles Lenox Mysteries
- A Beautiful Blue Death (2007)
- The September Society (2008)
- The Fleet Street Murders (2009)
- A Stranger in Mayfair (2010)
- An East End Murder: A Charles Lenox Mystery Novella (2011)
- A Burial at Sea (2011)
- A Death in the Small Hours (2012)
- An Old Betrayal (2013)
- The Laws of Murder (2014)
- Home by Nightfall (2015)
- The Inheritance (2016)
- Gone Before Christmas: A Charles Lenox Mystery Novella (2017)
- The Woman in the Water (2018)
- The Vanishing Man (2019)
- The Last Passenger (2020)
- An Extravagant Death (2021)
- What Just Happened: Notes on a Long Year (2021)
Detailed book overview
After graduating from Yale, William Baker, scion of an old line patrician family, goes to work in presidential politics. But when the campaign into which he's poured his heart ends in disappointment, he decides to leave New York behind, along with the devoted, ambitious, and well-connected woman he's been in love with for the last four years.
Will expects nothing more than a year off before resuming the comfortable life he's always known, but he's soon caught up in a whirlwind of unexpected friendships and romantic entanglements that threaten his safe plans.
As he explores the heady social world of Oxford, he becomes fast friends with Tom, his snobbish but affable flat mate; Anil, an Indian economist with a deep love for gangster rap; Anneliese, a German historian obsessed with photography; and Timmo, whose chief ambition is to become a reality television star.
What he's least prepared for is Sophie, a witty, beautiful and enigmatic woman who makes him question everything he knows about himself.
Charles Lenox Mysteries
Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, likes nothing more than to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist the chance to unravel a mystery.
Prudence Smith, one of Jane's former servants, is dead of an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The grand house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prue had dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by the motive for the girl's death.
When another body turns up during the London season's most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence Smith? Or was it something else entirely? And can Lenox find the answer before the killer strikes again—this time, disturbingly close to home?
In the small hours of the morning one fall day in 1866, a frantic widow visits detective Charles Lenox. Lady Annabelle's problem is simple: her beloved son, George, has vanished from his room at Oxford. When Lenox visits his alma mater to investigate he discovers a series of bizarre clues, including a murdered cat and a card cryptically referring to "The September Society." Then, just as Lenox realizes that the case may be deeper than it appears, a student dies, the victim of foul play.
What could the September Society have to do with it? What specter, returned from the past, is haunting gentle Oxford? Lenox, with the support of his devoted friends in London's upper crust, must race to discover the truth before it comes searching for him, and dangerously close to home.
It's Christmas, 1866, and amateur sleuth Charles Lenox, recently engaged to his best friend, Lady Jane Grey, is happily celebrating the holiday in his Mayfair townhouse. Across London, however, two journalists have just met with violent deaths―one shot, one throttled. Lenox soon involves himself in the strange case, but must leave it behind to go north to Stirrington, where he is running for Parliament. Once there, he gets a further shock when Lady Jane sends him a letter whose contents may threaten their nuptials.
In London, the police apprehend two unlikely and unrelated murder suspects. From the start, Lenox has his doubts; the crimes, he is sure, are tied. But how? Racing back and forth between London and Stirrington, Lenox must negotiate the complexities of crime and politics, not to mention his imperiled engagement.
But as the case mounts, Lenox learns that the person behind the murders may be closer to him―and his beloved―than he knows.
Returning from a continental honeymoon with his new wife, Lady Jane, Lenox is asked by a colleague in Parliament to consult in the murder of a footman, bludgeoned to death with a brick. His investigation uncovers some unsettling facts about the family he served and a strange, second identity that the footman himself cultivated.
Going into the boxing clubs and public houses, the Mayfair mansions and servants' quarters of Victorian London, Lenox gradually realizes that an old friend may be implicated in the footman's death. Soon a suspect is arrested, but Lenox has his doubts.
Desperately trying to balance the opening of Parliament and what he feels sure is a dark secret surrounding the murder, he soon discovers that the killer is someone seemingly beyond suspicion, and may be prepared to spill blood again―even a detective's.
It's the end of winter 1865 when Lenox agrees to investigate the death of Phil Jigg, a beloved neighborhood regular, found strangled on Great St. Andrews Street. In a case that takes him through the noisy vendors and pickpockets, the rough-and-tumble back alleys and local pubs of the Seven Dials, Lenox looks for answers in a place that couldn't feel more foreign from his West End home—and where his presence is anything but welcome. The answer comes in the person of someone so ruthless and brutal that those who could help Lenox are terrified into silence.
1873 is a perilous time in the relationship between France and England. When a string of English spies is found dead on French soil, the threat of all-out war prompts government officials to ask Charles Lenox to visit the newly-dug Suez Canal on a secret mission.
Once he is on board the Lucy, however, Lenox finds himself using not his new skills of diplomacy but his old ones: the ship's second lieutenant is found dead on the voyage's first night, his body cruelly abused. The ship's captain begs the temporarily retired detective to join in the hunt for a criminal. Lenox finds the trail, but in the claustrophobic atmosphere on board, where nobody can come or go and everyone is a suspect, he has to race against the next crime―and also hope he won't be the victim.
At once a compulsive murder mystery, a spy story, and an intimate and joyful journey with the Victorian navy, this book shows that no matter how far Lenox strays from his old life, it will always come back to find him.
Charles Lenox is at the pinnacle of his political career and is a delighted new father. His days of regularly investigating the crimes of Victorian London now some years behind him, he plans a trip to his uncle's estate, Somerset, in the expectation of a few calm weeks to write an important speech. When he arrives in the quiet village of Plumley, however, what greets him is a series of strange vandalisms upon the local shops: broken windows, minor thefts, threatening scrawls.
Only when a far more serious crime is committed does he begin to understand the great stakes of those events, and the complex and sinister mind that is wreaking fear and suspicion in Plumley. Now, with his protégé, John Dallington, at his side, the race is on for Lenox to find the culprit before he strikes again. And this time his victim may be someone that Lenox loves.
On a spring morning in London, 1875, Charles Lenox agrees to take time away from his busy schedule as a Member of Parliament to meet an old protégé's client at Charing Cross. But when their cryptic encounter seems to lead, days later, to the murder of an innocuous country squire, this fast favor draws Lenox inexorably back into his old profession.
Soon he realizes that, far from concluding the murderer's business, this body is only the first step in a cruel plan, many years in the plotting. Where will he strike next? The answer, Lenox learns with slowly dawning horror, may be at the very heart of England's monarchy.
Ranging from the slums of London to the city's corridors of power, the newest Charles Lenox novel bears all of this series' customary wit, charm, and trickery―a compulsive escape to a different time.
It's 1876, and Charles Lenox, once London's leading private investigator, has just given up his seat in Parliament after six years, primed to return to his first love, detection. With high hopes he and three colleagues start a new detective agency, the first of its kind. But as the months pass, and he is the only detective who cannot find work, Lenox begins to question whether he can still play the game as he once did.
Then comes a chance to redeem himself, though at a terrible price: a friend, a member of Scotland Yard, is shot near Regent's Park. As Lenox begins to parse the peculiar details of the death – an unlaced boot, a days-old wound, an untraceable luggage ticket – he realizes that the incident may lead him into grave personal danger, beyond which lies a terrible truth.
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. 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 investigate this 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. 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.
Charles Lenox has received a cryptic plea for help from an old Harrow schoolmate, Gerald Leigh, but when he looks into the matter he finds that his friend has suddenly disappeared. As boys they had shared a secret: a bequest from a mysterious benefactor had smoothed Leigh’s way into the world after the death of his father. Lenox, already with a passionate interest in detective work, made discovering the benefactor's identity his first case – but was never able to solve it.
Now, years later, Leigh has been the recipient of a second, even more generous bequest. Is it from the same anonymous sponsor? Or is the money poisoned by ulterior motives? Leigh’s disappearance suggests the latter, and as Lenox tries, desperately, to save his friend’s life, he’s forced into confrontations with both the most dangerous of east end gangs and the far more genteel denizens of the illustrious Royal Society.
When someone close to the bequest dies, Lenox must finally delve deep into the past to uncover at last the identity of the person who is either his friend’s savior – or his lethal enemy.
Charles Lenox’s holiday preparations are interrupted when an officer vanishes at Charing Cross Station. Lieutenant Austen, by all accounts an upstanding member of the elite Grenadier Guards, disappears, and his friends, searching the cloakroom of the station where they had been waiting for their trains together, find only a spray of blood on the wall above a scattering of his personal items—his train ticket among them.
Scotland Yard is baffled. Has the Lieutenant, who had a hand in intelligence, been kidnapped by French operatives? Or is there some more personal grudge at work? The situation grows graver by the hour, and Lenox knows that he will have to work quickly and brilliantly to have any chance of discovering the missing soldier—and getting home in time for his own Christmas dinner.
London, 1850: A young Charles Lenox struggles to make a name for himself as a detective…without a single case. Scotland Yard refuses to take him seriously and his friends deride him for attempting a profession at all. But when an anonymous writer sends a letter to the paper claiming to have committed the perfect crime―and promising to kill again―Lenox is convinced that this is his chance to prove himself.
The writer’s first victim is a young woman whose body is found in a naval trunk, caught up in the rushes of a small islet in the middle of the Thames. With few clues to go on, Lenox endeavors to solve the crime before another innocent life is lost. When the killer’s sights are turned toward those whom Lenox holds most dear, the stakes are raised and Lenox is trapped in a desperate game of cat and mouse.
In the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, this newest mystery in the Charles Lenox series pits the young detective against a maniacal murderer who would give Professor Moriarty a run for his money.
London, 1853: Having earned some renown by solving a case that baffled Scotland Yard, young Charles Lenox is called upon by the Duke of Dorset, one of England’s most revered noblemen, for help. A painting of the Duke’s great-grandfather has been stolen from his private study. But the Duke’s concern is not for his ancestor’s portrait; hiding in plain sight nearby is another painting of infinitely more value, one that holds the key to one of the country’s most famous and best-kept secrets.
Dorset believes the thieves took the wrong painting and may return when they realize their error―and when his fears result in murder, Lenox must act quickly to unravel the mystery behind both paintings before tragedy can strike again. As the Dorset family closes ranks to protect its reputation, Lenox uncovers a dark secret that could expose them to unimaginable scandal―and reveals the existence of an artifact, priceless beyond measure, for which the family is willing to risk anything to keep hidden.
In this intricately plotted prequel to the Charles Lenox mysteries, the young detective risks his potential career―and his reputation in high society―as he hunts for a criminal mastermind.
London, 1855. A young and eager Charles Lenox faces his toughest case yet: a murder without a single clue. Slumped in a third-class car at Paddington Station is the body of a handsome young gentleman. He has no luggage, empty pockets, and no sign of identification on his person. And putting together the clues to the mystery of the man’s identity only raises more questions, when Lenox discovers that the crime has a significant connection to America.
As he seeks to solve this impossible case, the young Lenox must confront an equally troublesome problem in his personal life. Kitty Ashbrook, beautiful and cultured, appears to be his soulmate―but love comes with obstacles of its own. In tandem, this fiendish early case and passionate, deeply felt affair will irrevocably shape the brilliant detective and thoughtful gentleman Lenox is destined to become.
London, 1878. With faith in Scotland Yard shattered after a damning corruption investigation, Charles Lenox's detective agency is rapidly expanding. The gentleman sleuth has all the work he can handle, two children, and an intriguing new murder case.
But when Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli offers him the opportunity to undertake a diplomatic mission for the Queen, Lenox welcomes the chance to satisfy an unfulfilled yearning: to travel to America.
Arriving in New York, he begins to receive introductions into both its old Knickerbocker society and its new robber baron splendor. Then, a shock: the death of the season's most beautiful debutante, who appears to have thrown herself from a cliff. Or was it murder?
Lenox’s reputation has preceded him to the States, and he is summoned to a magnificent Newport mansion to investigate the mysterious death. What ensues is a fiendish game of cat and mouse.
Witty, complex, and tender, An Extravagant Death is Charles Finch's triumphant return to the main storyline of his beloved Charles Lenox series―a devilish mystery, a social drama, and an unforgettable first trip for an Englishman coming to America.
In March 2020, at the request of the Los Angeles Times, Charles Finch became a reluctant diarist: As California sheltered in place, he began to write daily notes about the odd ambient changes in his own life and in the lives around him. The result is What Just Happened.
In a warm, candid, welcoming voice, and in the tradition of Woolf and Orwell, Finch brings us into his own world: taking long evening walks near his home in L.A., listening to music, and keeping virtual connections with friends across the country as they each experience the crisis. And drawing on his remarkable acuity as a cultural critic, he chronicles one endless year with delightful commentary on current events, and the things that distract him from current events: Murakami’s novels, reality television, the Beatles.
What Just Happened is a work of empathy and insight, at once of-the-moment and timeless—a gift from one of our culture's most original thinkers.