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  • Enjoyable

    Another great addition to the Lenox mystery series. Buy it and enjoy!

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  • Interesting historical mystery

    Charles Lenox, the second son of a baronet is still suffering under the loss of his father 18 months earlier. During the summer holidays, he's 'honoured' (or plagued) with the prolonged visit of a very mischievous young cousin called Lancelot. In the meantime, he's also trying to establish himself as a private detective, independent from the police. It's a job occupation and description he invented himself 3 years earlier. He's very serious about this endeavour, that's called a hobby by some and even spends 8 hours every week interviewing 'patients' of the infamous Bedlam asylum. Lady Jane, his best friend and neighbour is trying her hand as a match-maker and introduces him to her friend Effie Somers. Charles Lenox is called in by the duke of Dorset, one of the most powerful men in Victorian England, because of a painting that's gone missing from his study. Even though it's a portrait of one of the duke's ancestors, the painting is not very valuable as there are plenty of portraits left. The worrying factor is another painting that isn't stolen but may well be the real target of the thief. One the same wall hangs an obscure little painting of William Shakespeare painted from life. A priceless painting, as it's the only one in existence and only 3 people knew of its existence, being the duke himself, the queen and the surveyor of the queen's pictures as it's considered a national treasure. But before Lenox can start his inquiries, the duke gets kidnapped in broad daylight in the middle of London and a ransom is demanded. So now, Scotland Yard are involved as well, though Lenox doesn't reveal anything about the stolen painting. It doesn't take long before Lenox discovers that the duke was behind this 'kidnapping' himself. When he calls out the duke's ruse, he gets very angry and even goes as far insult Lenox in public and slanders his reputation. Suddenly he becomes a pariah in society. Despite this ungrateful attitude, Lenox keeps the secret about the kidnapping and about the paintings. This isn't the end of the story because eventually, the duke does something no duke ever does, he apologises and tells Lenox that the painting contains a clue about the whereabouts of an unknown work by Shakespeare. In order to find both painting and play, Lenox enlists the help of a peculiar quirky old sailor Thadeus Bonden, who's got an impressive talent to "find" things I'm completely new to this series and Lady Jane and Charles Lenox are both neighbours and very dear friends. He's a happy bachelor (platonically in love with lady Jane) and she's married to a husband that serves in the colonies and is now on his way back home. As it happens Lenox does like the husband very much as well and they've become friends during his leave. But I don't understand how they can be such loyal close friends in that strict society without causing suspicions and evil gossip. An interesting bit of info is that on page 13, there is an oversight of the hierarchy of the English nobility. I don't know if it's common knowledge for British people but I'm not even aware of the Belgium titles and their ranking, so this was a very welcome intermission. Not that you can't read the book without knowing this, but it adds to the "couleur locale" and overall enjoyment. One of the things I really enjoy in historical novels is fresh knowledgable titbits about the habits and customs of our ancestors. Now, Victorian times aren't really that far in our past but some of the etiquette rules sound very strange to modern ears. At a certain point, 3 men and a duchess are together in a carriage and the 3 gentlemen are all squeezed together on 1 side of the carriage, not because of rank or hierarchy but because no man who wasn't a relative could sit next to a woman in a carriage. Although I've got a vague suspicion that this politeness may also be influenced by the volume of women's dress in those days. I also didn't know that in London the mail was delivered 7 times a day! And delivered the same day it's posted as well, something they can't do nowadays anymore. In Belgium, they're even talking about limiting the snail mail to every other day. When I was a child (I'm 53 now) the mail was still delivered once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Progress isn't always an improvement! There's also a few references or predictions of things that will happen in the future; They're quite funny, but it's not that hard to write accurate predictions about the future in retrospect. The story starts rather slow and the tempo never really accelerates. But it is a nice and pleasant mystery but not really a thriller. I'm hesitant to use the term 'cosy' because I really despise that terminology and that what is often implied by it. So it's not at all soppy or silly and the historical facts that are sparingly served make the story all the more interesting and authentic. There's also quite a lot of things happening all along with this investigation, so it is certainly not devoi

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