Thursday, 4 July 2019

#CBR11 Book 33: "What Angels Fear" by C.S. Harris

Page count: 432 pages
Rating: 4 stars

#CBR11 Book Bingo: And So It Begins

From Goodreads, because it's nearly three months since I finished this baby:

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...

I like a historical mystery. I've read so many of them, but most, unless you include the Hercule Poirot books, are about lady sleuths. Amelia Peabody, Lady Julia Grey, Lady Emily, Veronica Speedwell and most recently, the Lady Sherlock books. I've known about the Sebastian St. Cyr books for ages, and kept wondering about them, but never got round to starting the series. I'm really making an effort this year to read TBR books that I actually own, though, and since this had been on my digital bookshelves since 2015(!) and fit into several of my reading challenges, it felt like it was time to give a male detective a chance. That it then also fitted into the Cannonball Read Bingo card was an added bonus.

Of course, the main problem of me reviewing this nearly three months after finishing it, is that I no longer very clearly recall what I thought while I was reading it (I need to get much better about taking notes to help me with my reviews) and a lot of the finer plot details also now escape me. I do remember that the book starts with the grisly murder (post death sexual assault, because murder clearly wouldn't be horrible enough) of a beautiful actress who is blackmailing someone. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is believed to be the killer and is immediately wanted by the authorities.

Obviously, St. Cyr is very invested in clearing his name, and fairly quickly comes to believe that someone in his family is the likely culprit instead. Could it be his father? His wastrel nephew? His supercilious brother in law? Or someone who just wants to get St. Cyr out of the way? As the investigation continues (with St. Cyr on the run), there are other women who turn up dead. While trying to solve the case and clear his name, St. Cyr ends up more or less adopting a young and resourceful street urchin who helps him, and reconnects with a former lover, the beautiful actress Kat Boleyn.

While I don't remember all too much about the finer details now, I did enjoy the story while I was reading, and will absolutely be checking out more books in the series. One of the benefits of starting a series late in the game, is that there are a lot of books to look forward to. As far as I can see, there are currently 14 books so far about the dashing Viscount (I certainly hope he isn't the main suspect in each book), so I have a lot of catching up to do.

Judging a book by its cover: It's not a great cover. A scowling man in period gear against a blurry, possibly foggy background. I'm not sure if the cover model is supposed to be our hero, I certainly imagined Sebastian more handsome and less sullen than this. I think historical mysteries with lady detectives have better cover art, generally.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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