The death of a notorious London diamond merchant draws aristocratic investigator Sebastian St. Cyr and his new wife Hero into a sordid world of greed, desperation, and the occult, when the husband of Sebastian’s former lover Kat Boleyn is accused of the murder.
Regency England, September 1812: After a long night spent dealing with the tragic death of a former military comrade, a heart-sick Sebastian learns of a new calamity: Russell Yates, the dashing, one-time privateer who married Kat a year ago, has been found standing over the corpse of Benjamin Eisler, a wealthy gem dealer. Yates insists he is innocent, but he will surely hang unless Sebastian can unmask the real killer.
For the sake of Kat, the woman he once loved and lost, Sebastian plunges into a treacherous circle of intrigue. Although Eisler’s clients included the Prince Regent and the Emperor Napoleon, he was a despicable man with many enemies and a number of dangerous, well-kept secrets—including a passion for arcane texts and black magic. Central to the case is a magnificent blue diamond, believed to have once formed part of the French crown jewels, which disappeared on the night of Eisler’s death. As Sebastian traces the diamond’s ownership, he uncovers links that implicate an eccentric, powerful financier named Hope and stretch back into the darkest days of the French Revolution.
When the killer grows ever more desperate and vicious, Sebastian finds his new marriage to Hero tested by the shadows of his first love, especially when he begins to suspect that Kat is keeping secrets of her own. And as matters rise to a crisis, Sebastian must face a bitter truth—that he has been less than open with the fearless woman who is now his wife.
There are few things that I love more than being able to solve a crime with Sebastian St. Cyr, the Viscount of Deviln. And in the eight installment of this mystery series, C.S. Harris did not disappoint me. I have come to develop expectations about what each of these books will give me as a reader: there will be a mystery, there will be romance, there will be a well-researched historical background, and there will be adventure. But what Harris has managed to do so well over the course of this series is develop her characters. You’d think that things would begin to feel stale once you reach the eighth book in a series, yet it does not. Sebastian, Gibson, Hero, Jarvis, Hendon, and Kat are all returned as characters, with the intwining relationships between all of these characters becoming more complicated and more realized, especially once Kat’s husband is arrested for murder — which is where this story starts off.
Benjamin Eisler, an elderly gem dealer, is found shot in his home by his nephew, with Kat’s husband standing over the body. Being at the scene of the crime the implications against the man are strong and he is quickly thrown into jail to await trial. But things are not what they seem. Eisler was well-known and heavily disliked. His secrets are numerous and his treatment of others is debaucherous; even Sebastian is forced to admit that there is potentially a list of hundreds of people who would have wanted to kill him. In an attempt to assist Kat to free her husband, Sebastian gets involved in the case, eventually discovering that Eisler seemed to be in possession of the Hope Diamond, which was stolen twenty years ago during the revolution of France and that had once belonged to King Louis XVI. Why did Eisler have the diamond? Could that have been a factor responsible for his death? And how do so many people seem to know that Eisler was in possession of the diamond? Who did he try to sell it for? So many questions must be pondered and explored for Sebastian and us to understand the crime better.
Besides the characters, what I enjoy so much about these books are the mystery. I have still been unable to figure out “who done it” until Sebastian does, and I appreciate being given that high amount of anticipation.
4 out of 5 stars.