Who Slays the Wicked
Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Book #14
By C.S. Harris
Author Website: csharris(.)net
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
When the handsome but dissolute young gentleman Lord Ashworth is found brutally murdered, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is called in by Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy to help catch the killer. Just seven months before, Sebastian had suspected Ashworth of aiding one of his longtime friends and companions in the kidnapping and murder of a string of vulnerable street children. But Sebastian was never able to prove Ashworth’s complicity. Nor was he able to prevent his troubled, headstrong young niece Stephanie from entering into a disastrous marriage with the dangerous nobleman.
Stephanie has survived the difficult birth of twin sons. But Sebastian soon discovers that her marriage has quickly degenerated into a sham. Ashworth abandoned his pregnant bride at his father’s Park Street mansion and has continued living an essentially bachelor existence. And mounting evidence–ranging from a small bloody handprint to a woman’s silk stocking–suggests that Ashworth’s killer was a woman. Sebastian is tasked with unraveling the shocking nest of secrets surrounding Ashworth’s life to keep Stephanie from being punished for his death. (Goodreads)
It is difficult to believe that Who Slays the Wicked by C.S. Harris is the fourteenth book in the Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery series; it is as fresh and interesting as the debut. Each book in the series is better than the previous one, which is seemingly impossible, and I cannot get enough of the broody hero, authentic prose and historical setting, and sophisticated murder mystery.
Long known to be a lascivious and profligate scoundrel, many people believe Lord Ashworth gets exactly what he deserves when he is gruesomely murdered, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, chiefly among them. Personal feelings aside, Sebastian feels obliged to help investigate when the Bow Street magistrate requests it. To complicate matters, Sebastian’s niece Stephanie is Ashworth’s wife and high on the suspect list. Sebastian follows a trail that leads him to the Royal family, Russian visitors, merchants, a fortune teller, his family, and back alley assassins to get to the surprising truth.
I adore this series for the careful research and compelling characters Harris provides. Real historical people and events are sprinkled seamlessly throughout the tale adding amazing layers to the storytelling. I always feel a bit smarter after reading Harris’s books. In addition to the history, Harris meticulously plots the complex mysteries but also includes Sebastian’s personal life and touches on the plight of the lower class citizens in Regency Era England.
Sebastian is a fascinating amateur sleuth. Even though he carries a lifetime of baggage, he is obviously intelligent and an exception of his noble class. He truly cares about the dire circumstances of the poor and justice regardless of social standing. He is somewhat of an antihero and deliciously complicated. His relationship with his wife Hero and his son Simon is one of my favorite aspects of the series. The supporting characters are equally well drawn and captivating.
The stakes of solving the mystery of Lord Ashworth’s death seem especially high for Sebastian. Of course, readers will have no sympathy for Ashworth. He is evil personified. Interestingly, few of the suspects inspire much sympathy either. With so much wrong with Ashworth, the suspect pool is bottomless. This makes the mystery satisfyingly convoluted and tough to figure out.
Who Slays the Wicked far exceeds any of my expectations. Highly recommended.