Review: When Blood Lies (Sebastian St Cyr #17) by C. S. Harris

The Sebastian St Cyr mystery series has been a favorite of mine for quite some time. I started off reading the series randomly and our of order and then I went back and started from the beginning and read them all again in order. I absolutely love this series even if at times it feels a little scripted meaning it follows a formula. I still have loved the mysteries and characters so much and every time I see a new book is coming out I absolutely rearrange my calendar for it!

If you like smart historical mysteries with some grit that doesn’t transition over into ‘disturbing’ then this is a great series for you. As I said, I have read the books out of order and was ok, however I did feel like I connected with the characters and the larger narrative much better after reading the series beginning to end. If you haven’t read the series beginning to end but maybe most of the book then you should be ok with this one, however if you haven’t read the other books at all, I would say this probably isn’t the one you want to start with.

This book focuses on Sebastian’s own family history that has been teased through a number of other books in the series. It’s basically what I would call the ‘ultimate’ mystery for Sebastian and the larger narrative. So if you haven’t read all of the books you can probably get by with having only read a few but if you haven’t read any then I think new readers will be lost in this book or at the very least miss all the nuances and significances of the story.

Summary

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has spent years unraveling his family’s tragic history. But the secrets of his past will come to light in this gripping new historical mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of What the Devil Knows.

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. (summary from Goodreads)

Review

Throughout the other books, Sebastian’s mother has been this sketchy figure with a checkered past and mysterious motives. When she has come up in other books it’s usually tied to the immediate story but we don’t really get much about her overall past and motives and how they impact Sebastian. So when I saw this book was coming out I was really excited to get to read ‘her story’ and find out more about that part of Sebastian’s life. In this book Sebastian and his wife Hero are in Paris investigating his mother and then she is found dying by Sebastian which leads him into investigating her killer. Honestly at first I felt really disappointed. This reunion and story has been 17 books in the making and then his mother dies. Like what??!! But I decided to trust the process—Harris hasn’t disappointed me yet and I was right, this book really did hit all my expectations and I was so hooked on it!

What I liked about this book most was how well Harris used the history of this time to impact and heighten the mystery of this story. She always includes such great historic detail that not only educates but entertains readers but this book really stood out in the use of political history to enhance the mystery and story. Harris has a brilliant way of making history exciting and fun but in this book she really uses it to her advantage and bring it literally to life in the story. This period in history is one I don’t know too much about but have grown to love and research more and more history thanks to this series. This is an outstanding historical mystery series and I literally hope it goes on forever!

I also loved that this book really took Sebastian’s character through a series of emotional events. Sebastian and Hero make such an amazing team and I loved watching their relationship grow and change in this book. Sebastian has changed so much as a character since the first book and I have loved seeing how much he goes through in this one. I feel like I need to go back and re-read the books all over again just to fully appreciate Sebastian’s journey going into this one. Needless to say I loved this book installment and felt fully satisfied with the events in the story and am so looking forward to the next book. Do not miss this series, it’s just fantastic and I love everything about the books in this series!

Book Info and Rating

Format: 336 pages hardcover

Published: April 5th 2022 by Berkley Books

ISBN: 9780593102695

Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: mystery, historical mysteries

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