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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why Mermaids Sing

Harris, C.S. Why Mermaids Sing. The third in Harris' Regency mysteries about Sebastien St.Cyr, Lord Devlin, Why Mermaids Sing continues with the events in Sebastien's personal life -- his knotty relationship with his father and his love affair with Kat Boleyn, an actress from a different social class entirely. When a magistrate asks Sebastien St. Cyr to aid in a murder investigation, Sebastien demurs. He discovers, however, that the image of the murdered eighteen-year-old young man bothers him, and he finds himself doing a little research almost without intention. Dominic Stanton is the second young man to have been gruesomely murdered, and from the nature of the wounds inflicted, Sebastien realizes that a message is being sent. And that there will most likely be more murders to come.

I have a little trouble with the use of John Donne's Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star because Donne is one of my favorite poets, and I love this poem from that stage in his life when he was still something of a rake ("Donne spent much of his considerable inheritance on women, literature, pastimes, and travel" -- Wikipedia).

A metaphysical poet, Donne wrote a number of humorously satiric poems about love and women. Another of my favorites is The Flea, an attempt to persuade a woman to sleep with him. After his marriage and his conversion to the Church of England (an almost forced conversion) when he became a preacher, he wrote sincere love poems (my favorites in this category include A Valediction Forbidding Morning , a love poem to his wife and Death, Be Not Proud, one of his Holy Sonnets) and then there is his unforgettable sermon, Meditation 17 that has some of the most quoted lines in history: " no man is an island," "any man's death diminishes me," "never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

But I digress, aside from that the novel is a fast-moving bit of adventure with lots of intrigue and a bit of surprise at the end which will undoubtedly be picked up in the next in the series.

(I know Danielle has read some of this series...anyone else?)

Whew! I'm almost caught up with my reviews.

Fiction. Historical mystery. 2007. 342 pages.


  1. I'm a huge John Donne fan, too, with a slight preference for the "Jack Donne" poems, although I love love love "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning"...I always think of that one when Mr. Bybee and I have to part company for a while. I'd love it if he'd read it with me sometime, but I was lucky to get him to read "Casey At The Bat"!

  2. Bybee - The Jack Donne poems have such a sly sense of humor! :) "Casey at the Bat" - well, we are all baseball fans so....

  3. I'm bad--I did indeed start the first one but got distracted. I'm having a hard time with mysteries again this year--I can't seem to make any progress in The Beekeepers Apprentice. I do want to read the Harris books, though.

  4. I really want to read this series. I've got the first one in this series and the Raybourn on my shelves! eek. Just too many other books vying for attention but one of these days...
    I'm behind on book reviews too - sigh, I guess we just get too busy reading new books! ha,ha..

  5. Danielle - I think there are cycles we all must submit to.... I've not been reading nonfiction, much lately, but expect I'll feel the need to soon.

    Iliana - Hard to spend much time on the reviews when we'd much rather be reading!

  6. I first read John Donne when I was 16. It brought back fond memories of school days when we would giggle at the "dirty" bits of the poems.

    I loved reading Donne's poems aloud then. It made it so much easier to memorise the poems, and to love it.

    You're okay with the reviews. Much much better than me, because I would much rather read than write about a book I've already read!

  7. Orpheus -- I especially love the flea for that sexual innuendo! It was useful in teaching, too. Just give a vague reference to any sexual aspect, and the kids were researching on their own. He is still one of my favorite poets.

    I especially dislike reviews when I'm not crazy about the book!

  8. I have looked at this one many times at the store because the cover is so fantastic. Glad to hear that it is worth reading as I may have to give in and pick this up.

  9. Carl - I've liked all of her covers. In fact, each time I pull one off the library shelf, it is because of the cover -- they are usually in those little holders to show the cover off.