Why Kill the Innocent
A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Book #13
By C.S. Harris
Author Website: csharris(.)net
London, 1814. As a cruel winter holds the city in its icy grip, the bloody body of a beautiful young musician is found half-buried in a snowdrift. Jane Ambrose’s ties to Princess Charlotte, the only child of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive to the throne, panic the palace, which moves quickly to shut down any investigation into the death of the talented pianist. But Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his wife Hero refuse to allow Jane’s murderer to escape justice.
Untangling the secrets of Jane’s world leads Sebastian into a maze of dangerous treachery where each player has his or her own unsavory agenda and no one can be trusted. As the Thames freezes over and the people of London pour onto the ice for a Frost Fair, Sebastian and Hero find their investigation circling back to the palace and building to a chilling crescendo of deceit and death…. (Goodreads)
Author C.S. Harris never ceases to amaze me. The Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries are at the top of my “must read” list of historical mystery series, and Why Kill the Innocent is a wonderful installment, fresh even though it is the thirteenth book in the series. You can always count on Harris to seamlessly weave an intriguing, complicated mystery with actual historical places, events, and people, and here is no exception. She never shies away from the grittier, darker side of the era.
In Why Kill the Innocent, we find London in the midst of one of its coldest winters ever, and this frozen stretch is particularly tough for the poorest residents of the city. While out to provide supplies to those struggling, Sebastian’s wife Hero literally stumbles over the body of musician and teacher Jane Ambrose in the middle of the street. It quickly becomes apparent that Jane, who was Princess Charlotte’s piano teacher, was the victim of foul play, and she immediately sends for Sebastian. Thus begins the twisted path Sebastian must traverse, full of secrets, deceptions, and business and political intrigue, where time is quickly running out before the palace covers up Jane’s death.
Though Jane dies very early in the story, I felt like I really got to know who she was from those around her. Jane was a fine musician and composer whose career was stunted simply because she was a woman. Harris does a great job of highlighting the double standard, injustice, and repression of women in the era. Knowing this makes Hero especially remarkable for the time. She is independent, intelligent, and strong minded, caring about those given a different lot in life, and a loving match to the scarred Sebastian. Sebastian is an anomaly of his class in that her genuinely cares about finding justice for others no matter their station. He has changed a great deal over the course of the series, and I especially love his domestic scenes with Hero and their one year old son. The other characters pertinent to the mystery are each more despicable than the last, and it is horrifying to think that many of the scenarios are true. Poor Princess Charlotte. The mystery is complex, a true intellectual puzzle that kept me guessing as the victims accumulated.
I enjoyed every minute spent reading Why Kill the Innocent and am confident it is one of my best reads of the year. Highly Recommended.