This book is a well written early nineteenth century mystery about Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, in his second appearance. Although I have not read the first book in this series, What Angels Fear, I had no difficulty in understanding the story as it unfolded. Ms. Harris places bits of information about the characters throughout the story to keep most unanswered questions at bay.
Sebastian St. Cyr is a Napoleonic war veteran, and heir to the Earldom of Hendon. He is his father’s only surviving son, his mother was presumed dead when lost at sea, is estranged from his sister and in love with an actress whom he turns to for comfort or to present puzzling pieces of the mysteries he solves. There is admitted love between the two of them, although Kat Boleyn is keeping a secret from him.
The mystery begins in Brighton, England, 1811 with the young Marchioness wife of an aging marquis found stabbed and dead in the arms of the Regent, Prince George. The Regent, known for his decadence, is unpopular with the people. The Regent’s cousin, Lord Jarvis, summons Devlin and requests him to investigate who killed the Lady Angelessy and how her body was smuggled into the Royal Pavilion. Devlin only agrees after he is shown the necklace worn by the dead woman. The last time he had seen it was on his mother who had been lost at sea, her body never recovered.
Being an insider to the royal circle and commerce, Devlin is able to move about with ease. During his investigation he finds Lady Angelessy, in her twenties, and her elderly husband had made an arrangement for her to conceive a child by another man to prevent his odious nephew from being his heir.
As the story unfolds while covering minute details of Regency life in England, Devlin begins uncovering clues such as when Dr. Gibson does an autopsy on Lady Angelessy, he learns she had been poisoned, bathed, redressed in a gown that didn’t fit and had been dead six to seven hours before she had been discovered. With new pieces of information come more murders, one of Devlin’s servants, a former street urchin now under his protection is falsely imprisoned, an inn gutted by fire; all connected in a complex pattern of political intrigue that threatens the monarchy.
The story is full of detailed characters and their environment, fast-paced, laced with twisting clues and suspense. I look forward to reading the next in the series, Why Mermaids Sing.
Format: Paperback, 377 pages
Publisher: Signet Mystery
Author: C.S. Harris