Mini-Reviews: Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries

Book: What Angels Fear
Author: C. S. Harris
Publisher: New American Library
Release date: November 1, 2005
Source: Borrowed from library
Series: Sebastian St. Cyr #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) In London, 1811, a young woman is brutally raped and murdered, her body left on the altar steps of an ancient church. The prime suspect: Sebastian St. Cyr, a brilliant young nobleman still haunted by his experiences in the Napoleonic Wars. Now he is running for his life, desperate to catch the killer and prove his innocence. Moving from Mayfair’s glittering ballrooms to St. Giles’s fetid back alleys, Sebastian is assisted by a band of unlikely allies and pursued by a Machiavellian powerbroker with ties to the Prince Regent himself. What Angels Fear seamlessly weaves an intimate knowledge of the period with a multi-layered and compelling story, and is the first of a series of novels featuring these characters.

Overall impressions: This is a terrific historical mystery with political intrigue and a dose of humor. Though its reliance on the historical setting led to a glacial pace, I appreciated the rich detail that completely transported me. If you like Regency London and an interesting murder mystery, this is your book.

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has a lonely and somewhat depressing life. He is the third and only living son of the Earl of Hendon, and as a young boy was devastated at the death of his mother and the realization that his father was disappointed that he is to be the sole heir. He also had the misfortune to fall in love with an actress, who broke his heart to prevent him from being disinherited. After running off to join the war against France, he returns a much changed man.

When he is framed for murder, Devlin is determined to find the real killer, not only to save his own hide but to correct the grave injustice suffered by the young victim. Devlin has a condition that provides him with extraordinary eyesight and hearing, which serve him well as he struggles to stay alive in his quest to track down a murderer. Full of twists and turns, gorgeous historical details, and vibrant characters, this is a gem of a book for historical mystery fans.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Book: When Gods Die
Author: C. S. Harris
Publisher: New American Library
Release date: November 7, 2007
Source: Borrowed from library
Series: Sebastian St. Cyr #2

Summary: (from Goodreads) Brighton, England, 1811. The beautiful wife of an aging Marquis is found dead in the arms of the Prince Regent. Draped around her neck lies an ancient necklace with mythic origins-and mysterious ties to Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin. Haunted by his past, Sebastian investigates both the Marchioness’s death and his own possible connection to it-and discovers a complex pattern of lies and subterfuge. With the aid of his lover, Kat Boleyn, and a former street urchin now under his protection, Sebastian edges closer to the killer. And when one murder follows another, he confronts a conspiracy that threatens his own identity…and imperils the monarchy itself.

Overall impressions: Viscount Devlin is once again investigating the murder of a young woman in this second installment in the series. Having proved his outstanding potential as a detective in the first book, he is personally solicited to help in a touchy case of a murdered aristocrat found half-dressed in the Prince Regent’s chamber during a party. The deeper he digs, the more things point to unrest, rebellion, and a possible overthrow of the monarchy.

This one was not nearly as intriguing as the first entry. Devlin is not as personally invested since his own life is not on the line, so it lacked the same urgency. The case is interesting, but revolved heavily around politics of the time, and as someone not as familiar with Regency England’s political history, I felt like I was missing things at times.

I appreciated seeing my favorite characters back again – the Irish doctor performing autopsies, the actress and lover Kat Boleyn, and the adorably sweet street kid-turned-servant Tom. The setting and characters are so fully realized that I felt like I was stepping back in time. For these reasons, I will likely continue in the series, but hope that the future plots remain as interesting as the first one.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

3 thoughts on “Mini-Reviews: Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries

  1. Ooh, sounds delicious! I'm a big fan of historical mysteries like this, rather like the glacial pace (in parts) most have. Thanks for a super review.

  2. I like these mini review – they are very direct – straight to the point. I'd be more drawn to the first book, even though I'm really not know to be a huge fan of historical fiction.

  3. These sound like great mysteries and I love the mini reviews, but I'm afraid the lack of interest in the politics of the era would bog me down with the second one and "glacial pace" kind of turns me off. Still, for a historical mystery you seem to enjoy them, so one day, maybe. Thanks for the reviews!Heather

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