The grisly murder of a West Indies slave owner and the reappearance of a dangerous enemy from Sebastian St. Cyr’s past combine to put C. S. Harris’s “troubled but compelling antihero” (Booklist) to the ultimate test in this taut, thrilling mystery.
London, 1813. The vicious decapitation of Stanley Preston, a wealthy, socially ambitious plantation owner, at Bloody Bridge draws Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, into a macabre and increasingly perilous investigation. The discovery near the body of an aged lead coffin strap bearing the inscription King Charles, 1648 suggests a link between this killing and the beheading of the deposed seventeenth-century Stuart monarch. Equally troubling, the victim’s kinship to the current Home Secretary draws the notice of Sebastian’s powerful father-in-law, Lord Jarvis, who will exploit any means to pursue his own clandestine ends.
Working in concert with his fiercely independent wife, Hero, Sebastian finds his inquiries taking him from the wretched back alleys of Fish Street Hill to the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair as he amasses a list of suspects who range from an eccentric Chelsea curiosity collector to the brother of an unassuming but brilliantly observant spinster named Jane Austen.
But as one brutal murder follows another, it is the connection between the victims and ruthless former army officer Sinclair, Lord Oliphant, that dramatically raises the stakes. Once, Oliphant nearly destroyed Sebastian in a horrific wartime act of carnage and betrayal. Now the vindictive former colonel might well pose a threat not only to Sebastian but to everything—and everyone—Sebastian holds most dear.
Review: In this tenth installment in the series, I am once again reminded why I anticipate each new Sebastian St. Cyr book.
I simply couldn’t believe my favorite historical mystery series was featuring my all time favorite historical romance author… Miss Jane Austen.
When a man is found murdered and decapitated, Sebastian takes the case. With his wife, Hero involved in her own work, and with the care of their newborn son, it is more important than ever to Sebastian to keep brutal murderers off the street. But, this case is especially complex and puzzling, not to mention dangerous. To make things more stressful it would appear Lord Oliphant is back and could have a connection to this case as well. Once more Hero finds herself marginally involved in the case. The suspects are plenty, including Jane Austen’s brother, the victim’s daughter Anne, and Anne’s lover, a man Anne’s father had forbidden her to marry.
All our favorite characters,( or not so favorite, in some cases), are back and I was thrilled to see Sebastian become a father and to see he and Hero are doing so well in their marriage. However, there are some unbelievable and shocking developments that blew me away. The mystery as always is multi layered and impossible to guess. The author has a way of weaving the mystery through out the upper and lower classes, through connections with familiar characters and new ones. Giving Jane Austen a place in the book was pure genius and gave the story a certain class, wit and even deeper depth. I enjoyed the conversations between Jane and Sebastian.
The history involving King Charles in the 1600’s and the collections by the victim, was fascinating and really weird. Who does that?
The emotional repercussions of this case will have an impact of Sebastian and Hero for a long time to come, but may also provide Sebastian with the answers to some burning questions about his heritage. I’m interested to see where this thread will lead in the future.
This mystery was absolutely absorbing and of course I love touching base with these characters again. I do hope this author is burning the midnight oil in order to get the next book out as soon as possible. I can hardly wait!!