Sunday, March 11, 2012
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.
Here we find Sebastian St. Cyr up to his neck in a murder mystery again, only this time the murder victim is found by the Prince Regent himself in his Brighton Royal Pavilion! Thinking he is having a secret rendezvous with a married lady he has been after for months, the Prince is shocked to find her dead in his arms with a knife in her back! His retainers cover up the scandal and tell all it was a suicide, but Sebastian is brought in to help shed light on the mystery of who killed the beautiful young woman. As he delves into the mystery, he finds that all is not as he believed in regard to the dead woman at all and the mystery becomes even stickier when St. Cyr realized her murder is tied into a plot to overthrow the House of Hanover. In addition, some revealing truths come to light in his own family concerning the unpleasant memory of his mother's drowning in Brighton when he was a boy.
Sebastian is not on the run this time, as in the previous installment and first book in the series, so it was not quite as exciting as the first book, but it had it's moments taking us from the Prince Regent's Royal Pavilion to the grimy cells of Newgate Prison and the dank and foul underground vaults of London. Many of the same characters from the first book reappear in When Gods Die, cementing them as "regulars" in the series, no doubt. I like his friends who are interesting with their own minor plot-lines or calamities that must be dealt with. They also create a nice ensemble of characters that round out the book.
I like Sebastian and I worry about his relationship with actress Kat Boleyn who is secretly a spy for the French. He truly loves her and I fear for what will happen between them down the road. She wants to stop her spying, but I don't think the French are going to let her. Plus, what is Sebastian going to do when he ultimately finds out what she has really been up all these years, aiding and abetting the very enemy he was fighting against while in the Napoleonic Wars?
On a lighter note, there are some amusing bits in this book, such as his long suffering valet who finally quits after Sebastian ruins his umpteenth coat and waistcoat. The man is hard on his clothes, to say the least. An aristocrat who has a knack for solving mysteries, he's no pushover and is adept at getting to the root of the matter which usually makes him a target by those who don't want him digging around where he doesn't belong. As a result, he finds himself in and out of scrapes constantly, I do wonder how long his luck will last.
If you are a fan of historical mysteries, particularly in the Regency era, this series is for you. Sebastian is charming, handsome and urbane. He fits in anywhere, whether it's a glittering ballroom or a stinking rat infested sewer - often on the same night, to his valet's chagrin.