Sunday, December 4, 2022

Review: When Blood Lies by C.S. Harris

by C.S. Harris
Release Date: April 5, 2022
2022 Berkley
Kindle Edition; 355 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593102695
Audiobook: B09JY66TTC
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

March, 1815. The Bourbon King Louis XVIII has been restored to the throne of France, Napoleon is in exile on the isle of Elba, and Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his wife, Hero, have traveled to Paris in hopes of tracing his long-lost mother, Sophie, the errant Countess of Hendon. But his search ends in tragedy when he comes upon the dying Countess in the wasteland at the tip of the Île de la Cité. Stabbed—apparently with a stiletto—and thrown from the bastions of the island’s ancient stone bridge, Sophie dies without naming her murderer.

Sophie had been living in Paris under an assumed name as the mistress of Maréchal Alexandre McClellan, the scion of a noble Scottish Jacobite family that took refuge in France after the Forty-Five Rebellion. Once one of Napoleon’s most trusted and successful generals, McClellan has now sworn allegiance to the Bourbons and is serving in the delegation negotiating on behalf of France at the Congress of Vienna. It doesn’t take Sebastian long to realize that the French authorities have no interest in involving themselves in the murder of a notorious Englishwoman at such a delicate time. And so, grieving and shattered by his mother’s death, Sebastian takes it upon himself to hunt down her killer. But what he learns will not only shock him but could upend a hard-won world peace.
My Thoughts
When Blood Lies is the next book in the long-running Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series. This one resolves a long-running subplot, the search for Sebastian's mother, and the journey takes us to Paris after the fall of Napoleon.  I have always enjoyed these books for the rich historical details, and this one is no exception.  The books are always well-written, full of extensive research, but is there a point where the research overshadows the mystery? Absolutely, and this is exactly what has been happening with the latest books in this series, of which this one falls victim as well. 

Having a history background, I love the historical information, but there really is a point where too much is really too much.  There was just some information thrown in that was not necessary to the plot and actually bogged it down.  Fine for a historical novel, but not so good when reading a mystery novel that depends on a certain level of tension and ruins the emotional moments of the plot.  

Overall, the plot wasn't horrible, but I was incredibly disappointed with the death of Sebastian's mother simply because so many previous books had this subplot leading to their reunion and this is not how I imagined it would go down.  And while trying to work out the mystery, something that was not too difficult if you have any understanding of French history during this time period, I was fervently hoping it wouldn't go down the road that it did, but unfortunately, it did.  I was fervently hoping for something a little bit different, something less global. And to be honest, I get tired of Jarvis showing up everywhere as I don't think it's necessary.  And Sebastian and Hero's investigations are sort of repetitive to previous books.  He investigates while constantly being told not to intervene and ruffles some feathers, and naturally, at some point, he will be attacked. Hero will interview the destitute and magically come across some tidbit of information that will give a huge clue to solving the case, and Jarvis will threaten everyone if they continue investigating.  Same old, same old.  And now we are left with another mystery, details surrounding Sebastian's actual father.

When Blood Lies was a bit of a disappointment, but I have been too invested in Sebastian's story to give up at this point.  I would have liked a different solution for his reunion with his mother as I felt the mystery in this one was rather weak and rambling, solely to incorporate the historical events of the time into the book.  I also feel that a mystery that has had fans involved for sixteen books also deserved a much better reward than the one given in this book.  I did like the historical details sketched out in this book as it showed the extensive research by the author, but they did overshadow the mystery and made any attempt to develop empathy for the characters difficult.  And now we are left with another mystery, Sebastian's actual father. Who exactly is this man?



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