Who Slays the Wicked is another historical mystery that features Viscount Devlin, Sebastian St. Cyr. C.S. Harris raises the stakes for her elegant and indomitable hero when his niece is looking at being suspected of a pretty horrific murder.
Sebastian is happily married with a child and is still a member of the English aristocracy in 1814. He has a very troubled family history and has been to war. As an intelligence operative for his country, Sebastian has developed an interest and talent for investigation and is often asked by the local constabulary to lend a hand if a murder touches a little too close to the Crown.
Sebastian’s niece has been compelled to marry the loathsome Lord Ashworth. Ashworth is known for cheating the hired help, abusive behavior and language, and some very twisted sexual interests. He is murdered quite grotesquely, and Sebastian is not sure that his beloved niece is in the clear. Either way, he wants to help. Sebastian certainly has no affection or sympathy for the victim here, but Ashworth is only the first. He once again has to search through the deception littering the chambers of power as well as the most dangerous streets of London to close in on a killer who will not hesitate add him to the body count.
This is a pretty bloody one here from C.S. Harris, but it was good. I generally like this series so I won’t have anything overly critical to say about this novel. Although Sebastian went through an emotional wringer in several of earlier novels, it’s nice to have him in some contented circumstances with his headstrong but loving wife and his young son. The one major reservation I have about this series is that there are some events that seem a little repetitious such as Sebastian having to once again fend off a murderous attack in some alley by someone who doesn’t appreciate his nosing around. I like that Sebastian isn’t just a cerebral protagonist and is an effective fighter when necessary, but I wouldn’t object to a bit more variety in the threats to his physical well-being.
The mystery itself was rather interesting, and Harris does employ the red herrings pretty effectively. I was a somewhat surprised at the identity of the killer. The novel also touches on the political and world events of the time. Napoleon was a real threat at the time. Also, there are some visiting Russian royal figures visiting that cause some distraction for the young viscount. Harris has become quite adept at weaving real history into the more fanciful entertainment of her plots.
Sebastian St. Cyr can come across as a little too noble and confident to be all that believable at times, but he is never unlikable. He also has enough darkness of his own to make him interesting to a reader and as formidable as the killers he is seeking. Not only would I recommend this novel for my fellow mystery fans, but I would say the whole series is definitely worth the time.
So I am in this little book club in the Texas Panhandle, and occasionally we land on something outside of my own personal wheelhouse of literary amusement. I am diving into the world of non-fiction with an interesting little chronicle Joel Stein. Next up is a book entitled In Defense of Elitism: Why I’m Better Than You And You Are Better Than Someone Who Didn’t Buy This Book. It sounds like an obnoxious title, but I do my best to reserve judgment until I read it.