A Victorian detective answers a desperate plea for help.
Because well-connected man of means Charles Lenox styles himself an amateur sleuth, Lady Annabelle Payson asks him to find her son George, a student at Oxford’s Lincoln College, who disappeared immediately after she visited him. The harried student left behind some unusual clues: his dead cat, a few cryptic notes, some bits of refuse and a card bearing the name The September Society. Also missing is George’s friend Dabney, who may be hiding nearby with him. When a badly disfigured body is discovered, the search for Dabney spreads wide. Lenox calls on a man to follow up clues in Oxford; on his old friend Dr. McConnell for help with medical matters; and on the Oxford police and finally the London force for aid. The mysterious September Society is evidently connected to George’s father, who served in India with the members of the group and whose death was never satisfactorily explained. Lenox puts his amatory pursuit of his neighbor Lady Jane Grey on hold as he grapples with a tricky and dangerous case that sends him back and forth between London and his beloved Oxford.
Though Lenox is not a patch on his fellow Balliol alumnus Lord Peter Wimsey, Finch’s second gives him a more exciting and cerebral mystery than his debut (A Beautiful Blue Death, 2007).