Why Kill the Innocent

Written by C.S. Harris
Review by Monica E. Spence

In 1814, the last Frost Fair was held on the Thames, and London was in the midst of the cruelest of winters. Men and boys quaked at the sight of press gangs scooping up the unwary for service in the Royal Navy, while their parents and wives wondered what happened to loved ones who did not return.

Returning home after speaking to the young wife of an impressed cooper, Hero Devlin, wife of Viscount Sebastian St. Cyr, is caught in a storm. She trips over an object hidden in a snowdrift: the body of Princess Charlotte Augusta’s piano teacher, Jane Ambrose. But why would anyone kill the musician, who by all accounts was well-liked? Despite their knowledge that any examination linking the palace to such unpleasantness will rapidly be dismissed by authorities, Hero and Sebastian work together, determined to discover the culprit.

As the suspects increase, the enterprising Devlins find themselves blocked from easy answers by those in power who have much to lose. The Regent grows testy, the Princess sadder and more isolated, and Caroline of Brunswick, the Regent’s estranged wife—well, she has more than a few things she would love to say to him.

Combining historical personages and little-known facts with her fictional characters makes C.S. Harris’s St. Cyr mysteries (this is the thirteenth) so rewarding. Sebastian is a brilliantly flawed man with a powerful sense of justice for the common man, and his beloved Hero is his equal in intellect and intensity.

One final note on the meticulousness of the setting. Just how does the author convince readers they are actually feeling that frigid atmosphere of eternal snow, cutting ice, and biting wind? Rarely have I ever felt as cold while reading a novel. I hope her next novel will be set in the summer, but even so, this book was a joy!