by C.S. Harris
Amazon / Goodreads
Plot Summary:It's 1811, and the threat of revolution haunts the upper classes of King George III's England. Then a beautiful young woman is found raped and savagely murdered on the altar steps of an ancient church near Westminster Abbey. A dueling pistol discovered at the scene and the damning testimony of a witness both point to one man, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, a brilliant young nobleman shattered by his experience in the Napoleonic Wars.
Now a fugitive running for his life, Sebastian calls upon his skill as an agent during the war to catch the killer and prove his own innocence. In the process, he accumulates a band of unlikely allies, including the enigmatic beauty Kat Boleyn, who broke Sebastian's heart years ago. In Sebastian's world of intrigue and espionage, nothing is as it seems, yet the truth may hold the key to the future of the British monarchy, as well as to Sebastian's own salvation....
Review:Sebastian St. Cyr is a very intriguing character to follow. Throughout this book his noble attitude and secret feelings are hinted at but continually hidden by a veneer of studied self-interest and carelessness. He's everything I find particularly appealing about darker, wounded main characters so it's no wonder that I really enjoyed this book!
The mystery starts off with a look at what happens to the victim, Rachel York. The reader glimpses her personality and her hopes for the future which makes it even more disturbing and saddening as we get to know her better through the course of Sebastian's investigation. The gradual and simultaneous understanding of the victim, the 'detective' (Sebastian) and of the truth behind the mystery was such an intriguing way to develop the whole story, and I really admired how well the author plotted everything out. The mystery was pretty impenetrable - I tried so hard to figure out who the murderer was before Sebastian but failed utterly. Even when some pretty glaring clues were dropped. It made for a fantastic reveal though!
The story moves very quickly and has many seemingly suspicious characters to keep the reader always second-guessing. There are so many secrets Sebastian has to unravel which made this a very engaging mystery and since Sebastian is also a puzzle in himself the story was that much more intriguing. The historical setting added to the level of interest I had in the mystery as well - the state of England at that time was not very promising, and the undercurrent of civil and political change was a nice backdrop to place this highly complex mystery.
This book did have some darker, gruesome moments which made the story sometimes very thought-provoking and melancholy but it has a wonderful lead in Sebastian St. Cyr, with his uncanny sight, hearing and reflexes, and I enjoyed reading how his cleverness, his disguises and his persistence helped him unravel this mystery. I look forward to reading more of this series!