My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
With this book have I now read all the books published in the Sebastian St. Cyr series and this is the first one that I have not read in order since I waited for it to be published in paperback and manage to get an ARC of the book that comes after this one and read it some months before this book. I did not mind that terrible, love this series and, despite knowing some things before I read this book did I find the book just as excellent as the rest of the books in the series.
I can without a doubt, say that this is one of my favorite series. I love historical mysteries and each book in this series has interesting cases mixed with Sebastian's own search for his mother and true father. Now he is also a father, and his wife's father is his arch nemesis which of course makes family life a bit difficult. Then again, his sister already resents him for being a bastard and still standing in line for inheriting the family title. It's not easy for him, and he has a tendency to find trouble. And, this time, he must solve the case of a headless body.
The case is interesting and I enjoy that Harris has added Jane Austen and her brother to the story. It was hilarious sometimes with everyone around Sebastian's reading this new popular book with an unknown writer. And, the daughter of the murdered man was some years earlier persuaded to not marry a sea captain. Brilliant move from Harris side!
I think even those that haven't read the previous books will enjoy this book. However, I would definitely recommend a new reader to start from the beginning!