Thursday, February 11

When Gods Die - CS Harris

On a summer's evening in the middle of Jun, 1811, the Prince Regent is delighted to find Guinevere Anglessey lying, waiting for him in Brighton's Royal Pavilion. Although she had rejected him previously, Prinny knew she'd come around, marriage being no barrier to his conquests.
Death, on the other hand, is a more difficult obstacle to overcome, and no sooner had Prinny discovered this fact than he was discovered by guests of the reception. Already somewhat unpopular among the common folk, and with his advisers fearing Great Britain may succumb to the same fate at recently revolutionised France, it is imperative that the heir to the throne be wholly cleared of suspicion, a task made more complicated by the fact that a dagger from Prinny's collection is protruding from her back. There is some concern that the pronouncement of the Regent's personal physicians that death was from natural causes will not allay rumours of his involvement.
Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, may have been more reluctant to become involved in the case had it not been for an additional mystery - clasped around the dead woman's neck was a unique piece of jewellery, a silver triskelion mounted on a dark disk of bluestone. A necklace with a legendary history, it has personal significance for St. Cyr - the last time he saw it was around the neck of his mother, some twenty years earlier, on the day she drowned at sea. Her body was never recovered, but there is no question that this is her necklace.
When Gods Die is a worthy sequel to Harris' magnificent What Angels Fear. In addition to a gripping central mystery the reader is also caught up by St. Cyr's search for he truth about his mother, which reveals information about his childhood and his parent's marriage, which in turns sheds light on his personality and character.
St. Cyr's lover, actress Kat Boleyn, resisted his push to a formalised relationship in What Angels Fear, and in When Gods Die we learn why that is. As is the case throughout the meticulously crafted, well researched and seamlessly written novel, that reason is a product of its time, and there is a magnificent atmosphere of the era.
I particularly liked the forensic science, which managed to be consistent with the period so far I could tell. It would be safe to read When Gods Die without having read its predecessor, as enough background is provided for relationships to make sense, but you would be doing yourself a disservice by not acquainting yourself with as much of Sebastian St. Cyr as you can manage. - Alex

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