Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Who Slays the Wicked (Sebastian St. Cyr #14), by C. S. Harris

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780399585654, April 2019

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has developed an unlikely habit of investigating murders in Regency London, but that's not the only reason Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy sends for him when dangerous and dissolute Lord Ashworth is found brutally murdered. Devlin believes, and seven months ago tried unsuccessfully to prove, that Ashworth was involved in a string of kidnappings and murders of street children, but that's not the main reason, either.

Ashworth was married to Devlin's headstrong young niece, Stephanie. She recently gave birth to twins, and their marriage had become a sham. Stephanie is living in Lindley House, Ashworth's father's home, not in Ashworth's home, where he lives his dissolute and alarming life.

Stephanie is one of the many people who plausibly had a motive to kill Ashworth, and she'd be a lot more acceptable to the Regent than accusing a member of the household of Grand Duchess Catherine of Oldenburg, in London for the upcoming meeting of the leaders of the allies against Napoleon.

Devlin sets out to find the real killer--hoping very much that it isn't Stephanie. Investigating Ashworth's recent private life is a nasty, distasteful task, and takes Devlin into such dangerous places as Seven Dials, and the Pulteney Hotel, currently serving as the Grand Duchess's residence in London. He's talking to hired thugs, and one of the few people who liked Ashworth. Meanwhile, Devlin's wife, Hero, is interviewing street workers--pure finders, rag and bone men, night soil workers, and others--intending to write another article attempting to raise the awareness of the upper classes about needed changes.

Her interviews lead to information that affects Devlin's investigation.

Meanwhile, that investigation is also straining Devlin's relationship with his sister, and Devlin and Hero's relations with Hero;s father Lord Jarvis.

This is a very good mystery set in a far more realistic picture of Regency London than I've typically found in novels with such a setting. C. S. Harris clearly has the research skills as well as excellent writing skills. And despite this being #14 in the series, and the first I've read, enough information is provided to understand necessary backstory without large or annoying information dumps. It's just salted in lightly, just enough to let the reader keep going without confusion.

Highly recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

No comments:

Post a Comment