Finally, after what seemed like forever, I received the new Sebastian St Cyr novel, and devoured it all too quickly. Once again, Ms Harris has written a fantastic historical mystery that is detailed and entertaining. This is book 13 in the series, and while a person could read it as a stand alone, you really shouldn’t. There’s a lot of personal backstory between Sebastian and his wife, Hero, along with the cast of regulars that adds to the story.
This one begins, as usual, with the discovery of a dead body. Only this time it’s Hero that literally stumbles across it in the snow and she immediately suspects foul play due to the lack of blood on the scene. And she realizes she knows the deceased, Jane Ambrose, a music teacher who has ties to Princess Charlotte, heir presumptive to the throne. Due to that fact, the murder will be hushed up and passed off as an accident since no hint of scandal could be associated with the Princess. Still, Sebastian, along with Henry Lovejoy of the Bow Street Runners, intend to do their best to find out the truth.
As the investigation unfolds, we learn more about Jane and her personal sorrows. She was a gifted musician and composer, but due to the lack of freedom given to women at the time, she wasn’t able to pursue that path. Instead, she had to teach music and assist her brother with his musical endeavors. She had an unhappy marriage, and her two sons passed away in the previous year due to illness. Then she unwittingly becomes entangled in some palace intrigue which may or may not have led to her death. There’s several people who could have wanted her out of the way, most notable Charlotte’s father, the vain vindictive Prince Regent, who treated his daughter horribly.
The story is composed of many threads that Ms Harris weaves together to solve the mystery, while at the same time, giving a clear picture of life in 1814 London. This was a year of intense cold and snow, where even the Thames freezes over and everyone struggles to endure the weather. The snow and ice only add to the dramatic setting of the story. Even the stark black and white of the cover looks chilling!
There isn’t a lot of personal drama in this book, though there were a few mentions of Sebastian’s relationship with his father that is still a little strained. I do like the scenes with Hero and their son, Simon; you can tell that Sebastian has become more settled and loves his wife immensely. They have a solid marriage, and treat each other as equals, which I’m sure was a rarity in reality for that time period. I was a little disappointed that Paul Gibson, the surgeon/anatomist had a rather small role in this book, as I enjoy the friendship between the two men, so hopefully he will show up again in the next book…whenever that will be!