Written by American author and literary critic Charles Finch, the Charles Lenox series is a series of mystery novels set in Victorian-era England.
Charles Lenox is an independently wealthy gentleman and a detective. From the streets of Victorian London to Parliament and even at Oxford, his alma mater, Lenox investigates murder mysteries as his career progresses into the world of politics-even if murder is always near.
How to read the Charles Lenox Series in Order?
1. The Prequels to the Charles Lenox series in order
Those prequel books can be read later, Charles Finch started publishing them in 2018, after the book The Inheritance.
- The Woman in the Water – 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 Vanishing Man – 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.
- The Last Passenger – 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.
2. The Main Charles Lenox Series in Order
- A Beautiful Blue Death – 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 September Society – 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.
- The Fleet Street Murders – 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. 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.
- A Stranger in Mayfair – 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.
- An East End Murder (short story) – 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.
- A Burial at Sea – 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.
- A Death in the Small Hours – Charles Lenox is at the pinnacle of his political career and is a delighted new father. 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. Only when a far more serious crime is committed does he begin to understand the great stakes of those events.
- An Old Betrayal – 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.
- The Laws of Murder – It’s 1876, and Charles Lenox 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.
- Home by Nightfall – Its 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.
- The Inheritance – 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. 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?
- Gone Before Christmas (short story) – Charles Lenox’s holiday preparations are interrupted when an officer vanishes at Charing Cross Station. Lieutenant Austen 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.
- An Extravagant Death – London, 1878. When Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli offers him the opportunity to undertake a diplomatic mission for the Queen, Charles 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 a suicide? 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.
- The Hidden City – Coming soon.