Thursday, May 21, 2020

Review: The Last Passenger by Charles Finch

The Last Passenger (Charles Lenox Mysteries, Book #13)
by Charles Finch
Release Date: February 18th 2020
2020 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250312204
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

London, 1855: A young and eager Charles Lenox faces his toughest case yet: a murder without a single clue. Slumped in a first-class car at Paddington Station is the body of a young, handsome gentleman. He has no luggage, empty pockets, and no sign of violence upon his person - yet Lenox knows instantly that it's not a natural death.

My Thoughts
The Last Passenger is the third and final volume in a set of prequel novels featuring Charles Lenox.  To be honest, this is the first book I've read by this author although I have most of his books, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I don't know why it's taken me so long to dive into these books as I love a good historical mystery, but after reading this one, I will definitely take the plunge and read the rest as I am now intrigued. 

I have to say that I found the concept of this one quite intriguing and it wasn't what I expected.  What I first thought was going to be a nice procedural and investigation actually took a turn in a quite different direction and suddenly I was in the midst of a world of abolitionists, slavery, and human rights.  Now, this was fascinating stuff and the entry of the Americans was interesting and unexpected.  I like how the British and American worlds kind of collided here and we got a glimpse of the political world surrounding Charles and his family during this time period.  Personally, I don't feel like the author went deep enough, kind of erred on the safe side, and made the characters seem a little too...nice.  I can't think that anyone who has dealt in slavery can have an ounce of compassion in their bones.   

The author has a great writing style and I enjoyed his quirky sense of humour, through Charles Lenox, as well as his criticisms of London during this time period.  And even though the main character thought he was an abolitionist, the whole experience made him re-evaluate exactly what that meant as he came into contact with a former slave and heard some of his experiences first-hand.  It was interesting as it makes you realize that anyone can BE something, but you also have to PROVE you are that something, through your actions as well as your words.  And when it comes to crunch time, can you act on those words.  At this point in time, just before the Civil War in the United States, slavery was still a controversial topic both in the U.S. and in Great Britain.  And it made and broke many political careers.  

On a more social level, I enjoyed learning about Charles and his family as well as his special friendship with his neighbours, Lady Jane Grey and her husband.  Considering his choice of profession was not highly regarded in society, I commiserated with him when he was snubbed at social gatherings and such, and felt for him as he navigated the social world looking for a possible wife.  The perspectives on women and their lot in life was quite interesting as Charles was nursing a broken heart in this one, and I liked learning about that perspective about women from a woman.  Charles is an interesting character who thinks about others, but is determined to do things his way. I like that about him.

The Last Passenger was an interesting mystery that focused on slavery and one's position on abolitionism which was quite controversial at the time.  I enjoyed the characters, but particularly enjoyed Charles and his issues with society and his choice of profession.  Because I was not familiar with the current books, there was one thing I wasn't expecting and it was quite a sad moment as I had grown fond of this character.  I definitely recommend this book, and look forward to reading the other books in this series. 


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