The Inheritance by Charles Finch is #10 in his 1870s Victorian historical mystery series featuring Charles Lenox, the younger son of a landed baronet. Lenox launched into the unfashionable career of a detective in his youth and by this point is one of three owners of a thriving investigative agency.
Lenox receives a letter from a long-ago Harrow classmate, Gerald Leigh, asking for his help. Leigh’s father died while he was young and left his family in penury. Normally that would have precluded Leigh from attending the exclusive and expensive Harrow but someone Leigh referred to as the Mysterious Benefactor paid his tuition and fees. Lenox and Leigh tried to learn who this person was without success. Lenox refers to it as his first case. Leigh did not fit in at Harrow and in his second year was expelled. He immediately joined a ship’s crew and vanished from Lenox’s life.
When they meet Leigh advises Lenox that he has received another inheritance and wants his help in finding out the source of this money, as he has no one he can reasonably expect to inherit from. He wonders if it is from the same person who paid his Harrow tuition and if it is tainted in some way. Since his arrival in London, Leigh has been followed and has been attacked twice.
In addition Leigh is besieged by members of The Royal Society, as he has become a well-known self-taught scientist and has published a great deal based on his work from his lab in Paris. Lenox sets out on the complicated task of protecting Leigh while allowing him to meet with the English scientific community and identifying his attackers as well as determining the source of both old and new monies. In the meantime his partners in the agency investigate a break-in in Parliament, their biggest customer, incurring the jealousy of Scotland Yard.
As always with this series, this book is an absorbing well-written read about largely pleasant but believable people. The plot is intricately structured with unexpected twists and judiciously sprinkled with clues that are sufficiently disguised so as not be recognized for what they are. I absolutely loved who the Mysterious Benefactor turned out to be. Another story point of particular interest is the description of scientific details as they were known at the time, which are presented effortlessly but no doubt required a great deal of research from the vantage point of nearly 150 years later. This series falls about midway on the idealized cozy-relentlessly gritty spectrum of historical mysteries and I recommend it.
· Hardcover: 304 pages
· Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st Edition edition (November 1, 2016)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 1250070422
· ISBN-13: 978-1250070425
Aubrey Hamilton © 2017
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal IT projects by day and reads mysteries at night.