Author: C.S. Harris
Provided Synopsis: Regency England, January 1813: When a badly injured Frenchwoman is found beside the mutilated body of Dr. Damion Pelletan in one of London’s worst slums, Sebastian finds himself caught in a high-stakes tangle of murder and revenge. Although the woman, Alexi Sauvage, has no memory of the attack, Sebastian knows her all too well from an incident in his past—an act of wartime brutality and betrayal that nearly destroyed him.
As the search for the killer leads Sebastian into a treacherous web of duplicity, he discovers that Pelletan was part of a secret delegation sent by Napoleon to investigate the possibility of peace with Britain. Despite his powerful father-in-law’s warnings, Sebastian plunges deep into the mystery of the “Lost Dauphin,” the boy prince who disappeared in the darkest days of the French Revolution, and soon finds himself at lethal odds with the Dauphin’s sister—the imperious, ruthless daughter of Marie Antoinette—who is determined to retake the French crown at any cost.
With the murderer striking ever closer, Sebastian must battle new fears about Hero’s health and that of their soon-to-be born child. When he realizes the key to their survival may lie in the hands of an old enemy, he must finally face the truth about his own guilt in a past he has found too terrible to consider….
Review: I don’t think it is possible to go wrong when it comes to the Sebastian St. Cyr historical mystery series. As an author, C.S. Harris continues to be extremely skilled with her construction of an engrossing mystery and the development of her characters. I am happy to report that once again — and this is book nine of a series, so talk about impressive! — I have been unable to determine the culprit, which always manages to please me since I have come across far too many transparent mystery plots from other authors.
The historical context of Why Kings Confess relies upon the mystery of the Lost Dauphin. Rumors have always led credence to the possibility that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s son had escaped from his imprisonment and lived in safety under an assumed name. And when a young, French doctor is discovered dead in an alleyway of London with his heart removed from his chest, it seems to Sebastian that someone had something to lose if Damion Pelletan lived. But the deceased man was also involved in other activities that murk the motive behind intent, such as his arrival to England with a group to negotiate peace talks between England and Napoleon to end the war, or his involvement with a married woman from his past whom now lives in London. Was Damion killed for politics or was he killed for love? Is there even any truth behind the mystery of the Lost Dauphin? As a history buff I found the parts about the Dauphin and the remaining members of the Bourbon family living in exile on English soil to be fascinating.
Also, since this book is the continuation of a series, there was character growth and life altering events for the series regulars; although, I will admit that it was a bit lacking in comparison to other books and is why I will give this book four stars. I love these characters and I have enjoyed watching their journey through life. Readers will finally be granted access to Sebastian’s fears when it comes to what he has seen while in the war, as well as over the health of Hero. And Gibson is also granted plenty of page-time, much to my delight! A new character has been introduced in this novel, and I hope she will stick around in future installments since I believe there is plenty more to learn about her. This book could be read as a stand-alone if you wish, but I would suggest starting at the beginning so that you might have a greater appreciation for these characters and what they have been through.