From the desk of Sophia Rose:
One of the most vibrant, yet gritty historical mystery series on the market today, the Sebastian St. Cyr series by C.S. Harris captivates and meets readers intellectually and emotionally with remarkable tales that are much more than a clever mystery set in the Regency period. When Blood Lies, the 17th book in the series, is one of my most anticipated reads this year and makes my top favorites lists.
“Thursday, 2 March 1815
One more day, he thought, one more day, perhaps two, and then… And then what?” (Loc 86)
Tragedy and Treason
With the peace after Napoleon is exiled to Elba, Sebastian and Hero come to Paris to meet the mother who abandoned her family when he was a child. He can perhaps come to know her again, but also get answers about his real father.
His long search leads to the heartbreaking moment he finds her not far from his house life nearly extinct. He is determined to discover the answers about the murder of the woman of mystery known as Sophia Cappello even when he is warned to leave it alone.
“In the past eleven months, we’ve torn down the tricolor and raised the white Bourbon flag, chipped the Emperor’s bees and eagles off our buildings, renamed squares and bridges, and replaced the prints of Napoleon in our shopwindows with those of Louis XVIII. Such external changes are easy. But beneath it all, resentments and hatreds linger. Fester… be careful, my lord. Be careful what questions you ask and be very careful whom you trust…” (Loc 281)
Sebastian’s mother is not considered respectable after leaving her husband and children to be the mistress of one of Napoleon’s generals, but Sebastian learns she was more than an ornament on the man’s arm. Sophie had an eclectic group of friends and interests and made some powerful enemies because of her startling politics. Sophie’s recent journey took her to visit an island where a deposed Emperor sits in exile. Was his mother involved in a plot to restore Napoleon?
Not So Friendly Advice
Sophie’s secret activities are a powder keg to the new peace. In delving into those secrets, Sebastian discovers that a ruthless killer will stop at nothing to know something she knew and many simply want Sebastian to leave off his hunt for the truth.
In the past, Sebastian’s encounters with his wife’s father have been smoldering with mutual dislike and Lord Jarvis is in Paris to help the Bourbons transition back into power and their latest encounter is far from cordial.
“The last thing he wanted at that moment was a conversation with the British King’s powerful, Machiavellian cousin. But he leapt up to take the seat opposite his father-in-law anyway…Jarvis’ steely gray eyes narrowed. “There are things going on here about which you have no idea. Things that are far great importance than the death of one woman.” “Not to me”… “I will not tolerate your interference in an already volatile situation.” “I’m not dropping this investigation.” (Loc 1806)
Aided by His Wife, Hero
While conducting the investigation, Sebastian is helped by his intrepid wife who aches for Sebastian’s grief and need for answers. Hero will even plunge into the dank slums or face down armed thugs to discover the answers they need. And, a surprise source of aid comes from the sly one-time criminal Vidocq, the head of the newly formed Surete’. Most of those they question are holding back or outright lying and there is a menace toward Sebastian and those he holds dear.
“It was when Hero was studying the stall’s array of gaily painted wooden horses that she felt it again – that intense awareness of being watched. Of being watched by someone who did not wish her well.” (Loc 3524)
Dynamic Detecting Duo
Sebastian and Hero are an incredible pair. Their story is told over several books and they have come into their own as a deeply loving, mutually respecting couple both in marriage and shared interests like detection.
Hero thinks of Sebastian:
“How does one reduce a man to a few words? He is brilliant but good-humored… noble but quick-tempered and hardheaded…cynical and yet somehow also idealistic. And deadly when he needs to be.” (Loc 3343)
“…while Lady Devlin…” He paused as if searching for the right words. “She is a formidable woman.” (Loc 5070)
Matters take their course and there are some breathtaking moments with a final blood-pumping scene before the book has a short denouement and an abrupt end that tantalizes the promise for the next installment.
Vive le Sebastian
The historical backdrop including real life characters and events, the twisting and often exciting mystery plot, and the complex relationships and situations all meld to deliver a fabulous and riveting book. The author even gives a playful nod toward beloved Jane Austen as Sebastian’s contemporary and old acquaintance from a previous case. While murder is the obvious element, the social injustices of the day as well as cultural history are brought to life so well that these are as much historical fiction as mystery which broadens the appeal to many more readers. My parting advice to newbies is prepared to binge.
5 out of 5 Stars
- When Blood Lies: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery (Book 17), by C.S. Harris
- Berkley (April 5, 2022)
- Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook (368) pages
- ISBN: 978-0593102695
- Genre: Historical Mystery
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Berkley © 2022; text Sophia Rose © 2022, austenprose.com.
Hello Dear Readers,
Have you read any of the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries?
If you enjoy historical mystery with dashing heroes, accurate period detail, and ingenious plots, Austenprose highly recommends them.
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Laurel Ann Nattress, editor