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The Fleet Street Murders    by Charles Finch order for
Fleet Street Murders
by Charles Finch
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

This highly recommended Victorian mystery opens on a winter evening in 1866 when two London journalists are murdered. But as far as the police are concerned, the incidents seem unrelated since the apparently coincidental murders are separated by time (5 minutes), geography (different parts of the city), and modus operandi (different weapons and different circumstances).

Part time sleuth and full time gentleman with political ambitions, Charles Lenox finds himself drawn into the two cases by a friend in the police department. Lenox begins to suspect that two killers with a single motivation were responsible for the murders. As the early evidence begins to point to the journalists' unique connections with a notorious traitor's trial and execution, the police surprise Lenox when they move quickly to arrest one obvious suspect.

Meanwhile, Lenox's attentions are divided between politics (as he campaigns for a seat in Parliament), romance (as his betrothed becomes increasingly reluctant to proceed with the marriage), and crime (as the police, in Lenox's view, are determined to follow a trail of seductively obvious red herrings).

Then, when foul play catches up with the suspect, when a second suspect is identified and apprehended, and when cryptic evidence implicates others, Lenox knows that the police are on the wrong trail in the case. He agrees with a friend who says, 'It's all fearfully complicated.' In the end, though, Lenox will make a shocking discovery that underscores a simple proposition: never trust your first impressions.

Full of Victorian era details about politics, society, and criminology, The Fleet Street Murders, a deftly plotted mystery with first-rate characterizations, is the third installment in Charles Finch's superb series of historical whodunits.

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