From the desk of Sophia Rose:
Over a decade ago, CS Harris released the first in a long-standing series of Regency Era historical mysteries featuring an aristocratic detective who starts out as the suspect solving his first crime to a renowned amateur detective in his own right. That book, What Angels Fear, introduced a complex hero who must solve murders and at the same time, the mystery of his own past. He must deal with what he discovers, learn the hard lessons of love, and come into his own throughout the series alongside other series regulars.
From the beginning, I was enamored with Sebastian St. Cyr and the rest of the characters who joined him along the way. I was enthralled with the author’s way of writing not just a mystery, but Sebastian’s story. Fifteen books later, I am still a tremendous fan and tend to fan girl over Sebastian and stalk the author’s website to get any tidbits about the next release.
Who Speaks for the Damned opens with the murder of black sheep Nicholas Hayes. No one knew the man was still alive since it has been years since he was charged with the murder of a Frenchman’s wife and sentenced as a hard labor convict in a prison colony. Sebastian has heard of the man, of course, but now he has to discover the answers to the present murder and sudden appearance of Hayes by delving into the man’s past. There are still some around who knew him and knew him well including Sebastian’s own valet, Calhoun. Many give him half-truths and lies, but he ruthlessly picks them apart to expose a disturbing, emerging picture. Sebastian is slowly convinced that Hayes wasn’t necessarily guilty in the past and that means someone got away with murder and plans to keep it that way. Meanwhile, a young child who depended on Hayes has been missing since the murder and someone wants this last witness silenced.
Sebastian’s progressive and brilliant wife Hero isn’t idle during this time. She is conducting her own investigation in her ongoing crusade to bring to light the conditions of London’s poor. Her focus for this study are the street musicians and she observes one young musician who may be more than he seems and the key to her husband’s case.
Who Speaks for the Damned offers colorful and well-drawn historical backdrop, a clever twisting mystery, tastes of ongoing series plot advancements, but above all richly drawn and complex characters from Sebastian right on down to the victim and the villain. There is also a blend of steady detecting work on Sebastian and the police’s part, to his home life and their life in society, and to the action sequences that have the reader breathless as Sebastian faces off with raw street roughs and smiling society enemies. There is so much going on and yet it flows so well together. Each story, including this one, pluck at the reader’s emotions whether it is a social injustice of the time or the lives of the characters that are sometimes heartbreaking. There are little curiosities that sometimes are explained and sometimes left to be answered later. The book and the series simply sparkle.
For the first time since I started the series, I chose the audio version. I have known for some time that one of my favorite narrators, Davina Porter, narrated the books. If I had a concern that after fourteen books read and voices established in my mind not being the same as the narrators, that was put to bed quickly. These books always get to me and keep me enthralled but add her fabulous audio work and I had no desire to turn the book off even when I needed sleep. She narrates male and female, old and young, various classes, and accents with such talent. I must go back and listen to the whole series now.
In summary, a murdered victim’s heartbreaking life leads to a gritty murder and I couldn’t put the book down. Those who appreciate a clever mystery, an engaging detective, and an authentic historical backdrop should not hesitate to pick up this series. And, if you can, don’t miss the audio version.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Who Speaks for the Damned: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery (Book 15), by C.S. Harris, narrated by Davina Porter
Recorded Books, Inc; Unabridged Edition (May 23, 2020)
Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook (336) pages
Cover image courtesy of Recorded Books, Inc. © 2020; text Sophia Rose © 2020, Austenprose.com