I have been following this series for a little bit. I have reviewed Who Buries the Dead (click here), Why Kings Confess" (click here), "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 see how the series doing now that we are into the eleventh book?
Author: C.S. Harris
Copyright: March 2016 (NAL) 368 pgs
Series: 11th in Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery series
Sensuality: Mild. clinical discussion of body and death
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Private Investigator
Main Character: Sebastian St. Cyr (Viscount Devlin) a veteran of the Peninsula wars with Napoleon and a nobleman.
Setting: Ayleswick-on-Teme, England 1813
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest opinion
Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has come to this seemingly peaceful Shropshire village to honor a slain friend and on a quest to learn more about his own ancestry. But when the body of a lovely widow is found on the banks of the River Teme, a bottle of laudanum at her side, the village’s inexperienced new magistrate turns to St. Cyr for help.
Almost immediately, Sebastian realizes that Emma Chance did not commit suicide. Less easy to discern is exactly how she died, and why. For as Sebastian and Hero soon discover, Emma was hiding both her true identity and her real reasons for traveling to Ayleswick. Living nearby is Napolean's estranged brother Lucien, being held under the British Government's careful watch. Could Emma Chance's death be tied to Napoleon? But then they discover that Emma was not the first young woman to die in the village. Could it be a well hidden serial killer in the seemingly peaceful village?
Besides Sebastian and Hero in this outing, there are many villagers populating the pages. Sebastian in searching for answers to his parentage. He gets a tidbit, but not full answers. I appreciate how Hero is right there helping him in his personal quest. But, the most notable is the local magistrate (lawman) Archie Rawlins. Archie is in over his head and doesn't want the easy answer. If it weren't for this careful and earnest man, another woman would have been murdered but officially written off as a suicide. This young man is somewhat an unassuming hero in the story and really stands out.
The idea that several murders over many years could have gone without detection because people were so willing to think the worst of the girls who died is truly sad, but rather true to life. The township has many eerie ruins that the victim, Emma, had been sketching. Each of the ruins added a slight gothic touch and set quite the backdrop. The climax was fast moving and both Hero and Sebastian face the killer. The wrap up was satisfactory and ties up all the loose ends with a few bittersweet notes.
Although this was a story the slowly picked up steam, it was well worth it. This book is a great addition to the series that is consistently well written and immersive. I have become a fan and begun back with the first book to fill in what I was missing in the series.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list