Author: C.S. Harris
Provided Synopsis: London, 1812. The brutal slaughter of eight young prostitutes in a house of refuge near Covent Garden leaves only one survivor- and one witness: Hero Jarvis, reform-minded daughter of the Prince Regent’s cousin, Lord Jarvis. When the Machiavellian powerbroker quashes any official inquiry that might reveal his daughter’s unorthodox presence, Hero launches an investigation of her own and turns to Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, for help.
Working in an uneasy alliance, Hero and Sebastian follow a trail of clues leading from the seedy brothels and docksides of London’s East End to the Mayfair mansions of a noble family with dark secrets to hide. Risking both their lives and their reputations, the two must race against time to stop a killer whose ominous plot threatens to shake the nation to its very core.
Review: Readers of the Sebastian St. Cyr series are in for a treat with the fourth installment as a character previously introduced (but woefully underused until this point) comes into the spotlight. Hero Jarvis is the daughter of Sebastian’s nemesis, and she is quickly proven to have plenty of the qualities that make her father so unreadable and insufferable to a certain Viscount. She is an independent woman with her own mind and ambitions, which is why she takes up research on the subject of prostitution and finds herself within a safe house for women of the night when a mass murder occurs. Lord Jarvis does not want his daughter’s proximity to the crime scene to be discovered and squashes any chance of a formal investigation. But as the only survivor of the night, Hero feels an obligation to the woman who died in her arms to discover what happened.
Because something was very mysterious about the prostitute named Rose. She was well spoken and clearly gently bred. How did a woman such as she come to be a prostitute, and why did she know the minute a disturbance was heard on the floor below that men had come to kill her? Plenty of suspects litter the streets and ballrooms of London, but with as many twists as this book took I find it difficult to imagine that anyone would have been able to determine the killer until the reveal at the very end; so be glad, because this is the kind of murder mystery story you want.
The last time readers had seen Sebastian, he had been on the precipice of self-destruction due to knowledge he had received. Eight months later and still in his cups, he needed to find something to grab his interest so that he might begin to set himself right — hence why he needed to become involved in the investigation. To watch Hero and Sebastian work together was a delight. Both are incredibly intelligent and able to use their familial and societal standings to their advantage in order to obtain information. However, they also remain very wary of one another to the point they cannot reveal all the information they have found to the other. There was one scene in this story that exposed both, together, to their vulnerabilities so that the reader and they could see each other for what they truly are. Readers of the books who have never liked Sebastian with Kat Boleyn will most likely grab onto the investigative partnership of Sebastian and Hero with enthusiasm since they have the marks of chemistry. Hopefully they will grow to be able to tolerate one another for longer than ten minutes…