The Last Passenger

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Feb 2020

Member Reviews

The series numbering gets a bit confusing; this is the third prequel to the ongoing series.

The Charles Lenox series tends to wander a bit, for every three steps forward, there are two back so Charles Finch can describe the people, history, and places the main character, Charles Lenox, is encountering.  In a roundabout way, ‘The Last Passenger’ is taking on Abolitionists and the slave trade, though not as prominent in Britain as it was in the United States, there were still forces on both sides of the pond that resulted in a body found without identification and a story that needed to be told.

It takes most of the book for Finch to get to the point, to figure out the clues and to delve into all the players, but once there the book comes together.   At the same time, questions are finally answered when it comes to Charles Lenox’s history with Lady Jane and what happened to her husband, Lord Deere.  

This series is not a quick read, some parts are downright tedious but stick with it because from time to time there is a spark of humor, especially from Graham, butler to Charles Lenox.  It is not necessary to start the books from the prequels since that is not how they were written, but they do answer some of the lingering questions that had come up while reading which had not previously been answered.
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In hindsight I  realize THE LAST PASSENGER  is the last book in the PREQUEL trilogy!  I was not at a loss that I came in late to the story arc, which is a credit to the author!  There is a richness to Mr. Finch’s writing and I am thrilled to be introduced to this series. The prose is lovely and absorbing! The historical research is excellent and enthralling! 

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the advanced copy in exchange for a personal review,
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Another excellent historical mystery from the always-skillful Charles Finch. The trilogy of prequel novels about Finch's Victorian sleuth, Charles Lennox, concludes in fine fashion here, with a mystery that begins in the gloom of a London train station; in addition to dealing with a difficult criminal puzzle, Lennox must cope with the efforts of friends who are certain he should marry (though not always clear about who the bride should be). Longtime series fans will enjoy seeing Lennox at this earlier and less assured stage of his detective career and glimpsing the roots of the man he becomes. Lovers of Victorian England will also relish the glimpses of 1850s London, evoked by Finch with his usual intelligence and accuracy. Highly recommended.
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Set in Victorian London, The Last Passenger by Charles Finch, is the final entry in a prequel trilogy that leads into a long series, featuring detective Charles Lennox. It has everything you could possibly want in a mystery novel.  The English setting is richly detailed, providing readers with a sense of the daily life of the untitled “second son” of an aristocrat. Lennox is simultaneously learning his craft and transitioning into adulthood. Both he and his trusted valet are engaging individuals, as are all of the supporting characters.  Even the evil miscreants have nuanced backgrounds that add to the unfolding mystery. Unquestionably, however, Lennox is the character that drives this story forward,

Finch’s writing is impeccable.  The dialogue is authentic and conveys both the formality of the era and subtle humor.  The plot has enough twists and turns to confound most readers, while managing to incorporate an English perspective of American politics and a compelling love story. 

I enthusiastically recommend this book if you love mysteries, English or other.  I have every intention of working my way through the entire series.  Thank you so much to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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It's 1855, as an unknown young man found brutally murdered w/o any clues of foul play in London.
Lenox knows instantly upon examination this is not a normal nor natural death.
The story plops around from Lenox's personal life to the investigation with multiple characters being put into play.
A central focus erupted with the slave trade and the consequences during this historical time, along with two side step conversations about marrying for love which wasn't embraced as a priority at that time, as well as thoughtful reflection with another character named Hollis.
Injustice, friendship, and hardships are all taken in and presented here with The Last Passenger.
It was a bit hard for me to keep track of it all with a multitude of characters and conversations but nevertheless, a good read.
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Although this book is labeled as book 13 of the Charles Lenox series, it is in fact the last part of a trilogy prequel to the series.  

Young Charles and his valet Graham are enjoying a quiet night at home. Lenox is playing chess with his neighbor Deere, husband to Lady Jane.  Inspector Hemsworth arrives from Scotland Yard, smelling of alcohol, he want to know if Lenox would like to accompany him to the scene of a murder.  Lenox fobs him off thinking Hemsworth is being lazy and just want the credit for Lenox's work.  Once he leaves Charles has a change of heart and dashes to the scene.  Confronted by the sight of a dead man on a train with out his boots and missing all the labels from his clothes, he is at a loss for where to begin the investigation.  The witnesses, include the station master and the conductor who found the body. 

Through many twists and turns, Finch has saved the best for last.  A thoroughly enjoyed mystery with a nice wrap up and tie in to the main series.  Fans of Charles Lenox will love the care taken with the story.  You do not need to read the whole series to enjoy any of the books they can be read as stand alone titles.
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When you start with a good English mystery set in a historical time and throw in a bit of romance, you have hope of an excellent read. Charles Finch makes good on that promise in The Last Passenger published on February 18. The setting is London in 1855 with the first and central, but not the last, murder victim left behind in a third-class car in Paddington Station. With no luggage, nothing in his pockets, and the labels all removed from his clothes, tracing to find out who the murdered man is becomes the first problem. 
Charles Finch could almost be writing his own review of this book when he says, “He (Charles Lenox) had known more peculiar cases . . . but none quite so unorthodox in structure. Usually in a murder investigation, one began with a victim and traced him or her to a murderer; in this one, they had begun with an anonymous victim, and it had taken all the ingenuity he had to find out the man’s name.” 
Historically interesting tidbits sprinkle through the tale like chocolate chips in cookies. There is Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass with its pages still uncut, talk of building some kind of underground transportation in London that will be more efficient, and infinite speculation on whether the rumors of a split will come in America over the issue of slavery. It is this last issue which feeds the plot as American slave trade comes into play with the identification of the victim as a staunch abolitionist.
The plot thickens as Lenox encounters Quakers; Josiah Hollis, who had lived in Atlanta in bondage for his first 27 years and friend of the murdered man; and members of the Parliament including Lenox’s brother. Then there is the lovely Kitty Ashbrook who just might make him attend to his mother’s wishes to give up the detective business and settle down with a good wife.  

This is a good afternoon read for a historical mystery-loving Anglophile.
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The Last Passenger is the third and last of the Charles Lenox prequels, and it finishes up the trilogy in style. In each of the prequel novels, Lenox has been progressively learning his craft and honing his skills. In this book, you can also see much of his emotional development, as the young, eager Lenox grows toward the more reserved, more thoughtful, more compassionate, and more dedicated man of the chronologically later books. The seeds have been there all along, of course. Lenox clearly has a flair for investigation, but the twists and turns of this case — and the mistakes he makes along the way — offer several valuable lessons for the young detective. Various experiences in his social and personal life also affect his personality and outlook.

The mystery itself is, as I’ve come to expect from Charles Finch, skillfully plotted and difficult to figure out — deceptively so, in this case, since both the police and Lenox believe they have solved it at various points, only to discover they were mistaken.

The case takes place not long before the American Civil War, and the conflict between abolitionists and supporters of slavery is a thread running through much of the book. Having myself been raised in the Society of Friends, I enjoyed the brief appearance and mention of several fictional Quakers. And I was intrigued by the character of a former enslaved man who plays a secondary or tertiary role in the story. I also enjoyed spending time with some of the recurring characters from the main series: Charles’s brother Edward and his family, and his friend Lady Jane, as well as her husband, Lord Deere.

Finch’s prose is always a joy to read: precise and reserved, yet never cold; at times quietly poignant, even lyrical, like a finely-drawn ink-and-watercolor illustration. The Last Passenger is no exception, although here he employs a tactic of occasionally skipping scenes and filling the reader in through the main character’s thoughts or conversation. While it worked well in most instances, there were a few instances where I would really have liked to “see” the scene as it transpired. Nonetheless, the book is very well written, and has left me wanting more. There are a few books in the middle of the Charles Lenox series that I’ve been hoarding for a rainy day, but I think I may simply start at the beginning of the main series and (re)read them all straight through.

(Rated 4.5 stars on my blog.)
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Charles Finch completes his prequel trilogy on Charles Lenox  in The Last Passenger.  Charles Lenox refines his abilities as a detective as he cooperates with Scotland Yard on the murder of an unknown man on a train.  The man turns out to be an American who is anti slavery so American pre Civil War politics play out in London society and its underworld.  Meanwhile, Charles falls in love with mixed results.  Well plotted Victorian mystery.
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Author Charles Finch never disappoints, and this third book of amateur detective Charles Lenox prequels is superb.  The murder on a train is at the center of THE LAST PASSENGER, but there is so much more within its pages.  Slavery, the English class system (and America’s unspoken one), friendship, love, and loss are all explored under Finch’s deft hand.  It was an exciting and emotional read.

Finch’s prose is elegant and engaging.  The careful attention to details allows readers to feel immersed in nineteenth century London.  Real places, people, and events are sprinkled throughout the tale, at times bringing gravitas or humor in turn.  The mystery is intricately plotted and well executed providing a fine puzzle to figure out alongside Lenox. 

As much as I always enjoy the murder aspect of this series, it really is the characters that keep me coming back.  Lenox, Graham, and Lady Jane, as well as the rest of the supporting cast, are expertly drawn, each with a distinct voice and manner.  I do dearly love them.

THE LAST PASSENGER is my favorite of the prequel novels.  It delivers on all levels and will surely be among my best reads of 2020.  I do hope there are many more Lenox adventures, at any age, to come.

I received an ARC of this title from Minotaur Books through NetGalley and voluntarily shared my thoughts here.
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Thanks to netgalley and St.Martin's for this ARC.

It's very sad that this is the last prequel to this series. I've enjoyed the series as a whole and cant wait to see what else Finch comes our with next. This is the kind of book we all dream about and don't want to end. The twists and workings of the mystery will have you reading til the end in one sitting.
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The Last Passenger by Charles Finch is the past of the three book series of prequels to his popular Charles Lenox series and may be one the best he has written. There is an undercurrent throughout the book. I have been struggling to name it: love? calm? maturity? wistfulness? I am not sure, but I can feel it. The story opens in an extremely funny way. Everyone, including Charles, seems to think that maybe it is time he marries. His close friends are all busily trying to find him a wife until it is indeed, hilarious. But of course, then there is a murder. A gruesome one. Unique and under bizarre circumstances, full of coincidence. Just what Charles loves. A man, found on a train, dead. The body is in the third class carriage and, interestingly, all the labels have been cut out of his clothing, even his shoes, making it impossible to identify him from those clues. How had the murder had the time to do this? Where had the conductor been? Charles begins his pursuit.

At home life is the same as always, balls, dinners, quiet evenings at home playing chess with Lord Deere, Lady Jane's husband. A real friendship had developed there and Charles enjoyed it. The quest for a wife was becoming more successful; he believed he had an option he was happy with: Lady Kitty Ashbrook. He called upon her almost daily and was certain he was in love. The case carried on in the background: a convoluted case involving an American politician and a former slave. The slave the only one remaining alive. Odd, that. This is an excellent book. It takes us rapidly forward in getting to know Lenox. Certainly a character driven book with a good mystery off to the side. I recommend it highly. Charles Lenox is a wonderful character as well as a wonderful man. So much to learn in this book as well. Finch is never parsimonious with his research. One could not make a better choice than this book, than this series.

I received a free ARC of The Last Passenger from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions and interpretations contained herein are solely my own. #netgalley  #thelastpassenger
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First Sentence: On or about the first day of October 1855, the City of London, England decided it was time once and for all that Charles Lenox be married.

In this third, and final, prequel Charles Lenox is still working to establish himself as an enquiry agent. Asked to visit the scene of a gruesome murder, he finds someone has gone to extraordinary lengths to remove anything which might lead to the victim being identified. Although Inspector Dunn blames the murder on gangs, Lenox convinces Sir Richard Mayne, now Commissioner of the Police, to let him assist with the investigation. On a personal front, Charles is having to fend off his female relatives and friends who are determined to find him a suitable wife.

It's lovely to have an opening which makes one smile, as this one does. It's also nice that, even for those of us who follow the series, Finch provides an introduction of Lenox, his situation, appearance, and ambition, as well as other major characters, including Lady Jane and her husband, Lord Deere. Neither does Fitch overlook the secondary characters. The way in which Finch introduces them, including the members of Lenox's household, is seamless. No long explanations, yet we have a sense of each character's personality. In fact, some of them are among the most interesting, particularly freed slave Josiah Hollis from Atlanta, and a young newsboy.

One appreciates Finch's voice and that it has something of the formality of the period in which the book is set--"Hemstock strolled in without a care in the world. You had to hand him that much: He had insouciance."

The plot is nicely divided between the investigation and Lenox's personal life. The repartee between him and his older brother Edmund is delightful. His courtship of Miss Catherine Ashbrook provides a delightful excuse for quoting Pride and Prejudice and a lesson in the history of the idiom "mind your p's and q's."

Finch perfects the balance of providing information on the slave trade, including discussion of the treatment of slaves, but keeping it a part of the plot, rather than the focus of it. It is interesting to see our history through British eyes. Yet an encounter which makes one cringe is Lenox taking Hollis to a doctor who proclaimed--"He was not expert in their kind."

This is the transitional book for Lenox showing his passing into maturity both in his life and his business. A conversation between Lenox and Hollis is thoughtful, enlightening, and causes one to reflect. Another conversation with Jane illuminates the reason why marriage for love often wasn't the priority for women of the period. Both are examples of excellent writing.

"The Last Passenger" is a wonderful book. There are well-timed, well-done plot twists. The logic behind Lenox's deductions is clever, yet not overly contrived. Rather than being focused on suspense, although that is there, it is a book that speaks to injustice, maturing, and friendship; true friendship. The end, particularly, stays with one long after closing the book.

THE LAST PASSENGER (HistMys-Charles Lenox-England-1855) - Ex
Finch, Charles - 3rd prequel
Minotaur Books - Feb 2020
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A prequel addition to the Charles Lenox series and am important addition to the series. The whole prequel idea didn't go over well with me in theory. In practice it has been wonderfully done and has added immensely to the enjoyment of the Charles Lenox series. This is the third of the prequels and I hope NOT the final one. I am not going to say too much about the plot but it was difficult subject matter that was handled deftly and with compassion and as always the whole book has humor and heart. This book added to the back story of Lady Jane and the story of her first marriage.  If you are new to this series I would read  them in the order they have been published. I highly recommend the audio versions also. The narrator, James Langton is perfect.
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The book is set in London in the Victorian era and Charles Lenox is a gentleman and amateur sleuth. 
This is my second book of the Charles Lenox mysteries and I liked it. 
The story is good, a good plot and, as in the first book, there is a nice description of the Victorian atmosphere. I liked this book better than the Vanishing Man, maybe because it was a more complex story and I started also to really like the main character. 
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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I love a murder mystery and there just something about having to solve a crime by just you wits and no modern forensics....well I'm just all about that. I didn't try to solve anything. I juat let the story tale my where it would.
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I hadn't read the first books in this series but this one seems to stand alone fine.  Interesting characters, intriguing story, and being transported to another time and place made for an enjoyable read.
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The Last Passenger is a book from one of my favorite mystery series and always one I can count on to deliver a good story and one that leaves me immediately wanting to pick up the next in the series, even if it is a re-read. The Last Passenger was no exception.

The story opens in a scene filled with humor and wit – apparently London has decided Charles needs a wife. Through-out the story we get to watch Charles skillfully evade potential future wives as they are introduced to Charles over and over again. Marriage and love in general are one of the common themes in this novel. But, this book is set in a time where a woman’s economic and financial options are limited, which is also introduced into the story. Even so, if one is lucky enough they get to experience true love, which we get to see very clearly through Lady Jane and Lord Deere’s relationship.

Toward the beginning of the story Charles becomes involved with a murder case where the clues and lack of clues are difficult to interpret, not to mention no one has any idea of who the victim is, which takes quite a bit of sleuthing to figure out. Through the course of the investigation we learn there is a connection tied to the politics of the American slave trade and as the story progresses the reader is given a little insight around the differences between the U.S. and U.K. policies and support in regards to slavery and the slave trade.

How does one not fall in love with this series? Because this is a prequel to the actual series I knew already where the story would take the characters, but even so, my heart still broke with that ending. It was so incredibly well done and so emotional. Not overly dramatic, but skillfully done with a delicate, light touch leaving my heart raw and bare.

Highly recommended to anyone who loves a traditional detective mystery story that is set in England in the mid 1800’s.

Rating: 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press and Minotaur Books for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.
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This is another prequel to the later Lenox mysteries. 

It's 1855, and Charles Lenox is feeling pressure to find someone to marry.  His neighbor and friend, Lady Jane, and his mother want him to attend parties where Lady Jane points out good prospects.  However, he gets called by Thomas Hemstock, a detective at Scotland Yard, to help investigate a murder at Paddington Station.  Charles finds the group on the platform and sees the murdered man in the third class carriage, who had no identification and no luggage.  Even the labels had been removed from all his clothes.   Charles later remembered that the conductor wasn't dressed like a conductor, and said he had collected tickets when tickets on that train weren't collected.  Eventually, Charles finds out who the dead man is from a missing person advertisement.  The man turns out to be a US Congressman from Massachusetts, Gilman, an advocate of abolition of slavery.  

This is a very difficult case for Charles, involving some very important people, but he finally does figure out what happened.   Near the end, Charles makes a new friend in Winston Cobb, the man who came from the US government to look into the death of Gilman.  In between detecting, Charles finds a young woman in whom he is very interested, but things don't work out.
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1855. Charles Lenox is called on by Inspector Hemstock to view a body at Paddington Station, discovered in the Third Class car train. His clothing stripped of all identifying marks, and no luggage it would seem a diffcult case to solve. But it will have far reaching consequences.
An enjoyable and well-written historical mystery, with a likeable style of writing and good plotting.
Aided by its likeable main characters. The secondary characters are also well-developed and so add to the story.
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