When Maidens Mourn – C. S. Harris

When Maidens Mourn sets Sebastian St. Cyr and his enigmatic and rather frosty new wife, Hero Jarvis, loose in Regency London and its outskirts on separate trails to solve the same murder. C. S. Harris puts more layers than a trifle in this tale of a lady archaeologist and historical scholar and the discovery of her body in a crumbling rowboat in Camlet Moat. Gabrielle Tennyson was a close friend of Hero’s and Sebastian, Viscount Devlin, is called upon to help resolve the puzzling murder. Complicating matters are the facts that the dead woman’s two young nephews have gone missing and Sebastian’s father-in-law and mortal enemy may have something to do with the crime.

As Sebastian and Hero struggle with competing loyalties, suspects pile up like quail on a hunt. The drama cuts across classes and takes our hero and heroine far afield, from bawdy houses, to legendary holy wells to the British Museum to a gypsy encampment on the river. I was concerned at the top of the story that several perfectly logical explanations for the crime seemed apparent but, thankfully, none of them survived the tumultuous events of city and countryside. Lots of political intrigue, family secrets, old and new loves, brigands, forgers, smugglers, Napoleonic plots and moneyed aristocracy to muck things up. Very satisfying, although the end result was foreshadowed but completely unpredictable and not as inventive as I would have liked.

Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries are probably worth checking into. The history is part-fact and part-fiction and well stitched together. The characters are interesting. I wasn’t enamored of the cool relationship of the newlywed Devlins but maybe they behave more like an actual team in other books. They might make better partners than antagonists. Alas, in this book, the wrong people die but the right people sort it out and salvage something important from the wreckage. There are six novels so far in this series. I would read another one.

When Maidens Mourn: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery   C. S. Harris | Obsidian  2012

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