Title: The Woman in the Water (Charles Lenox Mysteries #0.1)
Author: Charles Finch
Published on: 20th Feb 2018
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers (Historical)
The Woman in the Water is the first prequel to Charles Lenox series. The main character is called Charles – same (first) name as the author, how cool is that!
I read the second prequel – The Vanishing Man first. Reading this book made me realize that, as an amateur detective, Charles is very impressive. Born into an aristocratic family, Charles is snubbed about his line of work – studied at Oxford and you want to be a detective?
The struggle as an amateur detective is all there – Charles digs out a vital clue to the murders and is put on payroll by the Scotland Yard – half pound a week. Charles is a tad disappointed and wants to keep his ‘pay’ a secret from his family.
The story starts with a body found in Walnut Island. A sailor’s trunk is found floating in the river. When opened, a woman is found dead – she’s completely naked. A month later, another body is found in the Thames. This time, she’s covered in a white gown that looks almost like a bridal dress; her body is wrapped in garlands.
The murderer is very proud of his achievements. He sends letters to The Challenger – a newspaper. When the second body is found, news about the Thames Ophelia (as the dead woman is nicknamed) spreads high and low. Everybody is talking about it. The killer promises another murder the next month.
Charles wants to help the Yard in catching the murderer. But this is met with resistance by the detectives on the case. Their boss is impressed when Charles comes over with a clue. He immediately puts Charles on the case. Along with his butler Graham, Charles digs deeper into the mysterious murderer.
Charles Finch weaves such magnificent tales, I tell you. As I was reading through, the story felt like a movie playing in my head. It felt as if Charles, Graham, Edmund, Elizabeth and Mrs Huggins were my friends and not fictional characters.
Mrs Huggins was sometimes being a pain in Charles’ backside but the poor housekeeper had no other option but to nag. Charles always postpones the important household decisions for the last minute. Mrs Huggins had so many interesting stories about her previous employer – Lady Hamilton. At Lady Hamilton’s house, the rugs were cleaned every spring, the flowers changed regularly, this that blah blah, poor Charles had to listen to such elaborate stories!
Graham reminds me of Cadbury(of Richie rich fame). The guy is absolutely helpful – from packing bags in a jiffy to searching high and low for information on the case. Elizabeth is Charles’ friend. He’s also in love with her and regrets not telling her about it earlier – she’s married now, you see. Edmund is Charles’ brother and the duo share quite a lovely bond. Charles mother is peculiar in her own way; her husband has been given just six months to live. This causes quite a bit of turmoil in the Lenox family but they all take it well.
The ending is brilliant. The identity of the murderer – unexpected and surprising, phew! What a twist in the story! And guess who joined the dots and identified the killer?😁
Since I have read only the prequels in this series, I will be recommending only those. If you like historical mysteries, then you might find Charles Lenox series up to your liking.