You might be thinking this review looks a little different from our usual format and you’d be correct! As a result of someone (cough) going on a manic binge read, this someone has decided to do a series review (thus far) instead of fourteen different reviews.. considering someone (cough) was reading two to three of these books a day for the handful of days it took her to binge the series (cough).
Anyway, yes, if you don’t follow me on GR and are already aware, this is Hollis. Hello and welcome.
For six days, I lived and breathed the Sebastian St Cyr series. For those of you who don’t know, this is a series of historical fiction thrillers that follows the Viscount Devlin, Sebastian St Cyr, investigating murders. He finds himself with this somewhat macabre hobby after book one where it’s he who is accused (falsely) of murder and goes about trying to clear his name. Post-book one, he’s approached by a local magistrate to help investigate other crimes both due to his connections as well as his ability to navigate the ton.
Many of these murder mysteries are dark, particularly the first one and book twelve, and it was something of an adjustment to watch an investigator run back and forth, to and fro, to the same suspects as stories and evidence, testimonials, change as a result of the slow progress made back in the day before CCTV and crime labs. Honestly, it’s a miracle he ends up solving a single murder, much less fourteen (and then some)! But it feels very accurate to the times and the process is helped thanks to the expertise of his peers, specifically Paul Gibson, a fellow he met during the war, who now works as a surgeon and performs autopsies; and Sir Henry Lovejoy, the magistrate, who started off as the investigator trying to bring Sebastian to justice and then, later, becomes a friend.
Along the way, we come to see these recurring characters — and more! — and see their dynamics, and relationships, grow. Two of these characters deserve shoutouts (even if I like one more than the other) for being strong, smart, and savvy women in a time where women were preyed upon or overlooked.
This series is juicy, drama-y, things get revealed, things are still a mystery (and or a secret), and at this rate who even knows how long this series will go before we (and Sebastian.. and others.. who shall not be named) get the answers they seek, or that they don’t even yet know they know they need.
I’m realizing as I write this “review” that this is a tricky overview to write because spoilers.
What I will say, as my end-of-binge takeaway, is that while I was hella focused on this series, and jumping in to the next book seconds after finishing the one before, I’m not sure it’s a perfect series to binge. My ratings definitely fluctuated all over the place (breakdown to be posted near the end of this review) and there is some skimming involved after a while as there is a lot of repetition of description, events, and phrasing. I almost wonder if Harris wrote these books in a way where if someone wanted to pick up book eleven, despite some spoilers or shifts in dynamic, the reader could at least follow along without being confused. Which, hey, that’s not a bad way to write. But it does drag a bit on a binge reader. Also I did get to the point where I was a little punchdrunk and started making jokes about some of those repetitions but, hey, you can make fun of something and still enjoy it! At least, I can.
That said, some of these were such great installments, either because of the personal drama (there’s a lot) or the mystery (some were just amazing). Sometimes neither did much for me. But not a single one of these books dropped before three stars, so. I think that says a lot. I’ll link my GR mini/silly reviews in the list below, too, if you’re curious to see my “real-time” thoughts in the aftermath of each book.
If you’re a fan of historicals, enjoy procedurals, love a series that follows the same set of characters, want more crime/thrillers in your life, and want to immerse yourself in very historically detailed events set in England in the early 1800s, with all the class, gender, and societal issues that come with the times.. you’ll want to give this series a try.
WHAT ANGELS FEAR — three stars
WHEN GODS DIE — four stars
WHY MERMAIDS SING — four stars
WHERE SERPENTS SLEEP — three stars
WHAT REMAINS OF HEAVEN — three stars
WHERE SHADOWS DANCE — three stars
WHEN MAIDENS MOURN — four stars
WHAT DARKNESS BRINGS — four stars
WHY KINGS CONFESS — five stars
WHO BURIES THE DEAD — four stars
WHEN FALCONS FALL — four stars
WHERE THE DEAD LIE — four stars
WHY KILL THE INNOCENT — three stars
WHO SLAYS THE WICKED — three stars
Book fifteen, WHO SPEAKS FOR THE DAMNED, is out April 7, 2020, so there’s lots of time for you to dive in to this series if you haven’t already!