Note: There are necessarily spoilers for previous books in this series.
This is the third book in the historical crime fiction series set in 1811 Regency England, and featuring Sebastian St. Cyr, the twenty-eight year old Viscount Devlin. In the first book, he was suspected of a murder he did not commit, and had to become something of a Sherlock Holmes to find the real murderer to save his own skin. In the second, he is asked to help solve a murder, based on his expertise evinced in his own case.
You may also wish to consult my post on “An Introduction to the Regency Era.”
In this book, which takes place eight months after the first book, Devlin is approached by Sir Henry Lovejoy, the chief magistrate at Queen Square, with whom he has become friends. Lovejoy informs Devlin about a series of grisly murders in which the bodies of young men have been drained of blood, carved up, and left displayed in very public places, with odd items stuffed into their mouths. Jurisdiction for investigation has been given to Bow Street (the Bow Street Runners, a precursor of Scotland Yard, was the name of London’s first detective force, established in 1753). But both Lovejoy and Devlin remain committed to solving the string of murders, and of course, Devlin eventually does, albeit at considerable risk to his own life.
As in previous books, Devlin is aided by his “Watson,” the surgeon Paul Gibson; his mistress, the beautiful but low-born actress Kat Boleyn (who refuses to marry him because Devlin’s father would disinherit him if they married); and the former urchin Tom, who now serves as Devlin’s “tiger,” or handler of his horses.
A stunning cliff-hanger ending, however, puts his relationship with Kat in jeopardy.
Evaluation: The circumstances surrounding this crime are much more interesting than the usual “serial killer” motif. And one becomes invested in the recurring characters. I look forward to seeing what happens to them in subsequent books in the series.
Published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group, 2008