Today I review the newest in the Sebastian St. Cyr historical mysteries. Previously I reviewed "What Darkness Brings" (click here), "When Maidens Mourn" (click here), and "Where Shadows Dance" (click here). We were also honored to interview C.S. Harris (click here.) Let's get to the review right away...
Copyright: March 2014 (NAL) 352 pgs
Series: 9th in Sebastian St. Cyr Regency Mysteries
Sensuality: mild romance, some clinical discussion of mutilation-not too graphic.
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Suspense
Main Characters: Sebastian St. Cyr (Viscount Devlin) a veteran of the Peninsula wars with Napoleon and a nobleman.
Setting: 1813 London England
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Sebastian's good friend, Paul Gibson, finds a badly injured Frenchwoman (Dr. Alexandrie Sauvage) beside the mutilated body of Dr. Damion Pelletan in one of London’s worst slums. Alexi has no memory of the attack. Sebastian knows her from his past that he still has nightmares about, and they share a mutual mistrust. Apparently Dr. Pelletan was part of a secret delegation sent by Napoleon to test the possibility of peace with Britain.
During the investigation, there is the chance that the graphic murders are tied to the “Lost Dauphin,” the boy prince and heir (son of King Louis XVI) who is rumored alive rather than having died during French Revolution. Sebastian must investigate the surviving daughter of King Louis and Marie Antoinette, the haughty and cold-blooded daughter of Marie Antoinette... who is determined to retake the French crown at any cost. There were four children of the King and Marie Antoinette (Marie-Thérèse Charlotte "Madame Royale" (1778-1851), believed the only surviving member of the Royal Family. Louis-Joseph: eldest Dauphin of France (1781-1789) who died because of tuberculosis, Louis-Charles "Louis XVII": younger Dauphin of France (1785-1795) who died in the Temple's tower but rumored escaped, and Sophie-Béatrice "Madame Sophie" (1786-1787)). An additional concern is Hero's health with the impending birth as well as dear friend Paul Gibson's battle with pain medicine.
Sebastian faces some personal demons as well as learns to express his feelings with Hero. Hero is facing a dangerous breach birth while trying to stay active and help Sebastian. Lord Jarvis is his usual calculating self who doesn't want the peace negotiations to succeed. Paul Gibson gets a spotlight as he becomes entangled in the people involved, and must face his own emotional and physical pain. Dr. Alexandrie Sauvage is complicated and layered, her motives are murky but her concern for Gibson appears real. I hope she returns in future novels. I consider Alexi the breakout character.
Regency England is richly spread before the reader in meticulous detail, transporting you fully into the time and place. The birth complications added to this as well. The history about the French revolution and the trials of the royal son and daughter was gripping. The climax had some twists and the expected high tension -- very satisfying. The wrap up was priceless.
Another great entry in the series, maintaining the high standards of intrigue, character development, and atmosphere.
Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. If you enjoy historical mysteries, this is a must read.
Here is a book trailer for Why Kings Confess.
FYI, Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou is currently the heir to defunct French throne. A little piece of trivia.