A Murder Mystery for Fans of Downton Abbey

“The September Society” by Charles Finch. Available from the library in hardcover or digital download.

Jen McCormack

Like many people I have a long commute to and from work.  Admittedly there are some days when I crave silence and room for my own thoughts for those two or three hours, but most of the time I’m listening to an audiobook that I’ve downloaded from the library’s website.

It took me a while to develop the habit but now after almost four years working in Nashua I can’t imagine commuting without “reading” a book at the same time.

One of the books I listened to during September was The September Society by Charles Finch, a murder mystery  set in England in the late 19th century. That’s a little earlier than Downton Abbey (and quite a bit later than Pride and Prejudice),  but like those stories this book features influential men and women from wealthy households that employ a large staff and observe the rules and etiquette of fine society. Finch intertwines detective work and suspense with dinner parties, balls, and London gentleman’s clubs.

Fried tomatoes and dead cats
The story begins with a hysterical Lady Annabelle Payson begging wealthy private investigator Charles Lenox to find her missing son George. Lenox has only a preposterous assortment of clues to start with (a bit of string, a piece of fried tomato, a fountain pen, a dead cat) and has to make full use of his wits, influence, and the services of his butler Graham to discover just what’s happened. Cryptic messages written on the backs of cards from “The September Society”  deepen the intrigue and lead our detective into grave danger.

The narrator for this audiobook, James Langton, is tremendous: the voices and tones he gives to individual characters make them seem so real. The author helps the narrator and makes this a good choice for an audiobook with his excellent balance of dialogue in the story vs. narrative descriptions of scenes. Books too heavy on dialogue can become difficult to follow in an audiobook; keeping track of who’s speaking can be challenging without the visual cues of quotation marks and line breaks.

Like many mystery authors Finch writes his novels in series, so when you are done with The September Society there is plenty more of Charles Lenox to enjoy.  You don’t need to wait until next September, either; The September Society is a great read in any month!

Already read this book? Looking for something similar? Comment below, I’d be glad to suggest another Great Read!

About Jen McCormack

Jen McCormack is the director of the Nashua Public Library. Previously she was director of the Tewksbury (Mass.) Public Library and assistant director and reference librarian at the Amesbury (Mass.) Public Library. She studied history at UNH and earned her master's in library and information science from Simmons College.

Comments are closed.