Thursday, June 11, 2020

Review: Who Speaks for the Damned by C.S. Harris

Who Speaks for the Damned (Sebastian St. Cyr, Book # 15)
by C.S. Harris
Release Date: April 7th 2020
2020 Berkley Books
ARC Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0399585685
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Eighteen years before, Nicholas Hayes, the third son of the late Earl of Seaford, was accused of killing a beautiful young French émigré and transported to Botany Bay for life. Even before his conviction, Hayes had been disowned by his father. Few in London were surprised when they heard the ne'er-do-well had died in New South Wales in 1799. But those reports were obviously wrong. Recently Hayes returned to London with a mysterious young boy in tow--a child who vanishes shortly after Nicholas's body is discovered.

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is drawn into the investigation by his valet, Jules Calhoun. With Calhoun's help, Sebastian begins to piece together the shattered life of the late Earl's ill-fated youngest son. Why did Nicholas risk his life and freedom by returning to England? And why did he bring the now-missing young boy with him? Several nervous Londoners had reason to fear that Nicholas Hayes had returned to kill them. One of them might have decided to kill him first.

My Thoughts
Who Speaks for the Damned is the next entry in the wonderful Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, and I have to say, despite there being fifteen books in this series, it hasn't let down in suspense or interest as of yet.  I love how the author explores this age period through her mysteries as well as gives vivid descriptions of life for all different types of people.  I have been especially fond of Hero and her work cataloguing the poor, and trying to fight her peers to make them see what life is really like for everyone.  

Viscount Devlin has this uncanny ability to hunt down murderers and is often asked to help in a case by his valet, Calhoun.  Going on fifteen books, and I still don't feel like I have a grasp of Calhoun and his background, so I am anxiously awaiting the day when I do discover a lot more.   However, to this point Calhoun's shady background has really helped Devlin navigate the shady underworld and he has used those connections to track down murderers and other people needed in his investigations.  

If you have read any of this author's previous works, you will know the answer to the murder will not be so simple, and will involve many layers as well as have political and social implications.  And when Hero gets involved in an attack on Sebastian, it infuriates him to the point that he will no longer stop at nothing to stop the murderers.  It also gives him insight into his own own past and how easily he had escaped the same fate held by the victim, Nicholas Hayes.  

I really enjoy the way this author writes, and I love the attention to historical details.  The author will often mention buildings that used to be there, or the previous uses for them and I really enjoy that.  The plot itself is pretty twisty and turny, and if you are new to this series, it would be easy to get caught up in all the red herrings thrown in your path.  It would also be hard to understand some of the nuances as well as some of the subplots are books in the making and are still going on and a reader would have needed to read previous books in the series to understand those nuances.  To really get a feel for the relationships between Sebastian and his father-in-law as well as Sebastian and his dad, you would have to know about events in previous books.   

Now you may be wondering why I didn't give it five stars as I seemed to enjoy it so much, but here is the thing. It wasn't the mystery that was the main problem, it was those little subplots I mentioned.  While I get that those things can go on into infinity, I really wish some of them would turn into something, and not just drag on from book to book.  I get that Sebastian and his FIL don't get along, but it's been that way forever, so with events happening the way they did in this book, I am really hoping something shakes loose in the next one and we get going on those and they don't keep dragging on.  

Who Speaks for the Damned was a sad historical mystery, but definitely had its roots in the reality of the day.  The justice system during that time period was a mess, and too often the crown would look to anyone handy as a suspect just to close a case, and I am glad the author chose to highlight that issue in this book. I do recommend starting from the beginning of this series, and I think you will be satisfied with this latest instalment.  It definitely has all the hallmarks that fans expect.    


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