Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has become aware that someone is preying on the cities children. After a young boy has been found mutilated and his younger sister missing, Sebastian starts to investigate, uncovering a sadistic world among London’s brothels. Following a trail of rare books by the Marquis de Sade he finds the killer may be among his peers.
There are many things that I love about these audiobooks but first and foremost is the narrator, Davina Porter. She is a talent beyond compare, narrating all of the voices in these novels, handling multiple accents from different countries and even different parts of London. I forget that it is one woman that I’m listening to as I immerse myself in these very well written mysteries.
As this is book twelve in the series, I am completely invested in all of the regular characters. We have seen Sebastian grow from a youthful love for an actress, to an honorably married man and father. What hasn’t changed are his skills as an investigator, which are greatly tested in Where the Dead Lie. This is the first novel where his investigation is taken on because of who he is as a husband and father, not because of his place in the peerage. I found that an interesting contrast as he didn’t throw his title around as much as he’s done in previous novels, in order to get an answer to his question. In fact, that wouldn’t work, would it? His frustrations at being unable to get answers made him dig in even harder and truly use every skill in his toolbox. This made the novel stand out for me, which is hard to do because this author has written a series of great novels.
As Sebastian searches for the killer, his wife Hero undergoes her own interviews of these orphan’s, hoping to write a book to help bring light to their plight as they try to survive on the street. She often pays them for their time speaking with her and I can feel her helplessness as she gives them a little bit of money for their time. I’m sure she’d like to give away all of her money in order to open up a home and I’ve often wondered why she hasn’t done this already as this theme has continued through a few books. Interestingly her interviews often bring to light small nuggets that help Sebastian understand a situation better, or in fact gives him an answer. Despite not wanting her to be in danger he should think of using her more because she has serious skills!
This novel had a gruesome topic and again dredged through London’s darkest corners, which I both love and hate. These dark corners do make a great contrast to the glitter and glam of the peerage and help strike home that some of this world’s cruelties are wrapped up in pretty paper to help disguise it’s dark center. C.S. Harris is an amazing writer crafting a novel where you are both disgusted and made to feel hope at the same time. I think that’s why I keep coming back. Well that and the talent of this author and the estimable Ms. Davina Porter who brings the characters to life in audio form.
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