Book 10 in the Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series begins with a grisly discovery of a decapitated man at Bloody Bridge, his head mounted on a spike. The man was Stanley Preston, a wealthy man who owned a plantation in the West Indies. He was also a man who collected mummified heads (what fun), and a lead coffin strap linked to King Charles 1648 was found near his body, indicating he may have been lured to his death with the promise of the head. As it turns out, the Prince Regent is expecting to be the first to view the crypt of King Henry VIII, Jane Seymour and Charles I – however, now that Charles’ head is missing the hunt is on to find it and solve the crime as well. Sebastian, Viscount Devlin, is the man for the task.
As usual, there are several people who may have wanted Preston dead, ranging from an injured army officer to a nasty old curiousity shop owner to man from Devlin’s past. Ms Harris has also woven in another real person into this story, Miss Jane Austen, sister to Henry Austen, a banker who also may have wanted Preston dead. At the time, Miss Austen had published books under a pen name, but Devlin soon determines that she is a very intelligent and observant young woman who may be helpful to his investigation. Hero, Lady Devlin, is a fan of the books by the mysterious woman author, and even names their cat Mr. Darcy.
On the home front, Devlin and Hero are adjusting to life with baby Simon. Their marriage is becoming stronger and their feelings for each other continue to evolve into a loving bond. But along with their emotional attachment comes the realization that Devlin’s investigations may cost them so much more than before. There is a death of a certain character that is completely unexpected, and the loss shakes both of them to the core.
This was another enjoyable read! Ms Harris states in her authors notes that she used Jane Austen’s letters and biographies in her research to create the character here, and it felt like a natural fit to the story. Devlin and Hero continue to be enjoyable characters, and I appreciate the fact Ms Harris doesn’t stoop to misunderstandings between them to create conflict. Which is not to say their marriage is all sweetness and light, but they deal with whatever outside circumstances throw at them and work to resolve it.