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Charles Finch-Lenox's amiable infodumps are fast becoming legendary. Here's The Most Comfortable Man in London a few pages from the climax of The Fleet Street Murders, getting ready to confront a criminal mastermind at the Royal Mint:



The Royal Mint held an exalted place in the history of England, and it had been a great pride of Barnard's to know its history inside and out. It was Alfred the Great who had first gathered in hand the middled systems of moneyers' workshops in Anglo-Saxon times and founded the London Mint, in 886. By 1279 the Mint was firmly entrenched in the safest single place in England-- the Tower of London, where it remained for five centuries. In 1809 it had moved to a vast, golden-stoned building in East Smithfield, where it stood regal, imposing, and remarkably well-guarded. . .

[T]he post of Master. . .was traditionally held by a great scientist or an aristocrat-- and occasionally. . . by an important politician. (The leader of Lenox's party in the House of Commons now, William Gladstone, had been one of these, Master of the Mint from 1841 to 1845.) The greatest of these Masters had been Isaac Newton, who held the post for nearly thirty years, until his death.

Yet now what a threat it was under!


Never change, Lenox-Finch! Long may you inform.

The series continues to deliver its very simple and satisfying combination of hot fire and buttered crumpets + comfortable horrors + facts about Victorian London. Here the story takes a couple of sharp sad turns while remaining remarkably cozy overall. Lenox is engaged to be married, after spending all of The September Society wringing his hands over whether or not to ask his best friend and next door neighbor Lady Jane to marry him. Since they live right next to each other, they can just knock out a couple of walls and join their houses together for maximum comfort! But when their friend Toto suffers a miscarriage, Jane begins to have some mixed feelings, and the wedding might have to be delayed. I am sympathetic to Jane's concerns, but I hope it doesn't go on being delayed for another ten books.

This is also the book where Lenox runs for Parliament, fulfilling what we're told several times is a lifelong dream! The campaign distracts him from the murders; the murders distract him from the campaign, but everything works out all right anyway (mostly). To be honest, I'm not sure that he's as temperamentally suited to politics as he wants to believe, but he has his reasons and maybe it won't be so bad. Oh, and Lenox's enthusiastic aristocratic apprentice learns that sometimes investigating murders has an emotional toll! Everyone's got to learn it sometime, I guess.

The next book is A Stranger in Mayfair, and if the fates are kind, I'll be picking it up from the library later today.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
osprey_archer
Jan. 5th, 2015 11:51 pm (UTC)
I kind of love the infodumps in this series, simply because they are so blatantly at home with their own infodumpyness. Finch doesn't even pretend that Lenox needs to convey this information to anyone else, he's just like, "Here, have a potted history of the Royal Mint!"

I think my favorite infodump is the one where Lenox recalls seeing a fellow receive his church living, but my memory for exactly when things happen in these books is remarkably poor, so I can't remember if you've reached that bit yet.
evelyn_b
Jan. 6th, 2015 10:23 pm (UTC)
I think the series is very much at home with being exactly the thing it is, if that makes sense? That's why I'm consistently pretty charmed by things I might otherwise consider flaws. It's not making any effort at all to be a pastiche, either of old-school detective novels or Victorian novels or Victorian writing of any kind. It's just what it is. (I'm not sure exactly what to call what it is).

The opening two chapters of A Stranger in Mayfair are a delight. First, gossip about Lenox and his friends, and oh dear, detecting, how terribly common! And then, well, we're just about to leave France, so BAM! Infodump about the recent state of international relations between France and England! Did you miss me? (you know you missed me).

I guess Lenox's Famous Detective status is creeping up on him despite his best efforts to give all the credit to Scotland Yard. I hope fame doesn't make him uncomfortable.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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