The Laws of Murder Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 8 CDs (9 hours)
Read by James Langton

Typically, novels set in Victorian England focus on either the reserved behavior of polite society or the seedier, more sinister side found on dark city streets. But in the audio version of The Laws of Murder, author Charles Finch’s privileged detectives struggle to build a business while getting caught up in the sordid secrets of high society.

The story finds Finch’s beloved 19th-century sleuth Charles Lenox making a career change. After serving in Parliament for six years, he’s decided to open London’s first detective agency with three colleagues. Once the agency opens its doors, however, the detectives struggle to build their business. Lenox, especially, finds that the clients just aren’t coming—until Scotland Yard comes to him for help investigating the murder of one of their own. And as Lenox begins his investigation, it leads him to something deeper, darker, and much more sinister than expected.

The Laws of Murder is a fascinating historical mystery, taking readers back in time to walk the streets of Victorian London. The storytelling has a kind of grace and elegance to it—despite the often sordid details of the case—offering a glimpse of some of the best and worst traits of aristocratic society.

The characters are appropriately polite and exceedingly charming—especially Lenox, who’s developed well beyond his role as detective. He’s also a loyal friend, a thoughtful husband, and a respectful business partner. And as he struggles to bring new clients into the detective agency, he becomes increasingly concerned and even insecure, fully aware that, while he may not need the money, his colleagues do—and they’re relying on him to bring in his share.

Because of the focus on character, though, this eighth book in the series might be best for long-time fans of Lenox and his adventures—because while the mystery is intriguing, Finch often pays more attention to the new agency, the partners, and their increasingly strained relationships. Even after the mystery is solved, the agency’s story continues for a full CD, pausing just briefly to wrap up the case. The struggle to build this new business adds plenty of drama to the novel—and the interactions will give newcomers a better understanding of the characters—but long-time readers will definitely appreciate that part of the story more than those who aren’t familiar with the characters.

Still, even if this is your first Charles Lenox mystery, you’ll find the story both absorbing and easy-going. The details of the surprisingly scandalous mystery are sure to hold your attention, yet it’s not so complex that you’ll have a difficult time following along while listening. And after spending some time in Victorian England with these likable sleuths, you’re likely to seek out even more of their literary adventures.

Listen to the audio review on Shelf Discovery:

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