Book Review: The Last Passenger

Book: “The Last Passenger” by Charles Finch
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: February 18, 2020

[usr 5]


From bestselling author Charles Finch comes the third and final in a prequel trilogy to his lauded Charles Lenox series.

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.

Pursuing the investigation against the wishes of Scotland Yard, the detective encounters every obstacle London in 1855 has to offer, from obstinate royalty to class prejudice to the intense grief of his closest friend. Written in Charles Finch’s unmistakably warm, witty, and winning voice, The Last Passenger is a cunning and deeply satisfying conclusion to the journey begun in The Woman in the Water and The Vanishing Man

[Synopsis from Goodreads]

Book Review for “The Last Passenger”

This book is exceptional. It was much better than I anticipated it to be. Charlie Lenox is a cross between Agatha Christie’s Monsieur Poirot and Sherlock Holmes.

You do not need to read any prior Lenox Mysteries to dive into this story. I think that’s the fear for many people when they pick up a book and realize it’s a series. With the Lenox Mysteries, you do not have to worry about not having read the earlier books. Finch may mention something that happened in an earlier story to explain a character, but he does not make it into a big thing like “YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS, because it was in my previous book.” You can expect to go into this like any other Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes book.

One of my favorite things about Finch’s writing is that he interjects little historical facts throughout the story. From backgrounds on how words were re-shaped into our current English language, to little historical tidbits about the most random things. You’re actually learning something as you read. They are the most random facts, but absolutely cool to learn.

This story begins with the death of a passenger on the 449 train at Paddington Station. The passenger is discovered stabbed to death with all of the tags inside of his clothing removed. Charles Lenox is asked by someone from Scotland Yard to take a look.

Lenox’s adventure takes him into the world of slavery and abolition between the US, Jamaica and England.

Points I had to investigate further: Franklin Pierce. So I thought I knew all of my US Presidents. I had to keep asking myself if Franklin Pierce was some made up president. So…he would be one of the lesser known presidents that preceded Abraham Lincoln during a time when the US was on the verge of Civil War. He was president between 1853-1857, which is the time frame of this book (i.e. years before Sherlock Holmes). [See, I told you there’s a lot of historical tidbits you will learn.] He did not believe in abolition, so these were the years that kept America out of the crosshairs of going to war over slavery.

All in all, this was a really good mystery. It’s perfect for the Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fans. Just when you think the murder is solved, it ends up being a much bigger plot than originally assumed…that’s when the story becomes really interesting. This is definitely one of the better period mysteries I’ve read in some time. Definitely worth picking up the Charles Lenox Mysteries.

Just so you understand how much I enjoyed this book and the author’s work, I ordered the other books from the Lenox Mysteries right after I read this one.

[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.]

You can pick up your copy of “The Last Passenger” at any of these PW approved retailers.