Author: C.S. Harris
I picked up this series after it was established, beginning with Where Shadows Dance (click here) and the novel just prior to this one, "When Maidens Mourn" (click here.) I enjoy this series and always find it an engrossing read. I included this novel in my History Mystery Reading Challenge (click here.)
Copyright: March 2013 (Berkley) 369 pgs
Series: 8th in Sebastian St. Cyr Regency Mysteries
Sensuality: references to prostitution
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Suspense
Main Characters: Sebastian St. Cyr (Viscount Devlin) a veteran of the Peninsula wars with Napoleon and a nobleman.
Setting: 1812 London England
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
This book picks up roughly a few weeks after the events in "When Maidens Mourn" with the tragic death of Sebastian's former military comrade. While still realing from that news, Sebastian learns of yet another tragic event. Russell Yates, the man who married Kat Boleyn a year ago, was discovered standing over the corpse of Benjamin Eisler, a dishonest gem dealer. Kat Boleyn asks Sebastian to clear Yates and save him from the gallows...and he can't turn her down.
Sebastian begins digging and finds the man had made many enemies with his cheating of customers and using indebtedness for sexual favors. Eisler also appears to have had a penchant for dark magic, apparently from his fear of his many enemies. Sebastian believes the motive behind his murder is actually an enormous and rare blue diamond that had disappeared from the French Crown Jewels during the revolution. Eisler was quietly negotiating the sale of the diamond know as the French Blue, or the Blue of France for a wealthy financier named Hope, when it disappears the night of his murder. Sebastian has his job cut out for him in this adventure.
Sebastian deals with many emotions in this book as he mourns the death of a friend whose life was tragic and then must deal with attempting to clear the man who married Kat Boleyn, his first great love. While Sebastian may seem stoic on the outside this book gives a glimpse at how deeply he cares about friends and Kat - still. This story allows him to explore his feelings for Kat and put them in perspective. There isn't as much Hero in this book, mainly because these are Sebastian's friends from his life before Hero. But the scenes with Hero reveal much about her. There was little advanced in Sebastian and Hero's relationship other than a growing affection, although Sebastian does attempt to express his feelings in a very understated way. Nothing advanced in Hero's tension with her father versus her husband. I keep waiting for her to stand up to her father. Jamie Knox and his maybe family relationship with Sebastian is not expanded on in this novel, although they seem to have reached an understanding and tolerate each other.
Regency England is a favorite since Napoleon's France provides opportunities for spies and intrigue. The mean streets and the palatial grandeur are each displayed. We particularly get a glimpse of the harsh life of street sweeps and "doxies," the girls in prostitution with this tale.
The plot and pacing are each on point for a suspense novel and keep the reader's interest engaged. I enjoyed learning more about the Hope diamond and felt the incorporation of such a famous element was brilliant.
I did not suspect the killer and the confrontation was a nail bitter and executed skillfully. This installment in the series mixed emotion, greed, power, corruption, and intrigue together into a heady tale that sweeps the reader along.
Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.