I zoomed through the 3 St. Cyr books that I checked out last week.
When Maidens Mourn (Sebastian St. Cyr #7)
OK, I wanted to love this one, but strangely all the "Lady of Shalott," Arthurian legends, and fictional Tennyson's felt forced.
Not bad, but not my favorite in the series.
Historical Mystery. 2012. 356 pages.
What Darkness Brings (#8)
Brief Description: Regency England, September 1812: After a long night spent dealing with the tragic death of a former military comrade, a heart-sick Sebastian learns of a new calamity: Russell Yates, the dashing, one-time privateer who married Kat a year ago, has been found standing over the corpse of Benjamin Eisler, a wealthy gem dealer. Yates insists he is innocent, but he will surely hang unless Sebastian can unmask the real killer.
A truly creepy, villainous blackmailer who believes in the supernatural, some Napoleonic espionage, the Hope diamond, and the growth of the relationship between Sebastian and Hero all factor into this installment.
The inclusion of actual details or events from the time period is one of the pleasures historical novels provide. The Napoleonic Wars have played a role in this series from the beginning and continue to do so in each novel. What Darkness Brings, set in 1812, also includes a lot of information about the Hope Diamond--a bit of its history as part of Le Bleu de France, its theft and disappearance during the French Revolution, and a mention of its re-appearance in the possession of the Hope banking family in 1812. Of course, the plot line alters things a bit, but Harris explains the facts in the Author's Note at the end. After I Googled them myself. Next time, I go to the Author's Notes first.
Historical Mystery. 2013. 349 pages.
Who Buries the Dead (#10)
Brief description: The vicious decapitation of Stanley Preston, a wealthy, socially ambitious plantation owner, at Bloody Bridge draws Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, into a macabre and increasingly perilous investigation. The discovery near the body of an aged lead coffin strap bearing the inscription King Charles, 1648 suggests a link between this killing and the beheading of the deposed seventeenth-century Stuart monarch. Equally troubling, the victim’s kinship to the current Home Secretary draws the notice of Sebastian’s powerful father-in-law, Lord Jarvis, who will exploit any means to pursue his own clandestine ends.
Ha! I just read some reviews on Goodreads, and I have to agree with some of the reviewers that Hero is, in many ways, the more interesting character--and she doesn't get enough time. The inclusion of Jane Austen as a minor character felt as forced as the literary references in When Maidens Mourn -- coulda worked, but didn't. Sometimes I truly love the inclusion of real people as secondary characters in a novel, and if it had just been the amusing scene in which Sebastian's aunt is totally engrossed in reading Pride and Prejudice by an anonymous author, I'd have love the allusion. A Jane character, however, felt awkward.
Once again, Harris includes some fascinating glimpses of historical oddities: the discovery in 1813 of a burial vault that housed the coffins of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and surprisingly, that of Charles I; the discovery of Edward IV's remains in 1789 and the snatching of relics from the body (ugh); and other strange occurrences with the heads of Oliver Cromwell and Henri IV. A heady brew of stolen heads!
Historical Mystery. 2015. 352 pages.
A while back Rita wrote an interesting post about book binges: Should You Binge on a Beloved Author. I couldn't help but think of it when I finished the third book. Maybe I should not have read these 3 back to back, especially since I'd just finished the newest one in the series--When Falcons Fall.
It isn't that I wasn't entertained, because I was. Harris pulls me in each time, but I noticed too much. Certain phrases that occurred with frequency, certain patterns of plot development, the too familiar manner of introducing characters from previous novels. Things you might not notice if there is at least a year between books (Harris puts out a new one every year), but when you read the books back to back, those details stand out.
I really liked When Falcons Fall (#10), and I look forward to #11, but will appreciate it more for the wait.