Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: When Falcons Fall by C.S. Harris




The Sebastian St Cyr's continues its reign as one of the top mystery series for me. The mysteries continue to be intriguing and mind baffling. Once again I had no clue who the murderer was, but when all the pieces were laid out before me, it made sense. When Falcons Fall is the eleventh instalment in the Sebastian St Cyr series and once again it lives up to the books which have gone before. I often get series fatigue in many book series after book 5. That's never been the case here. I wait with anticipation for the next book to be out in 2017.


A couple of spoilers for other books in the series after the jump.


From Goodreads:


Ayleswick-on-Teme, 1813. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has come to this seemingly peaceful Shropshire village to honor a slain friend and on a quest to learn more about his own ancestry. But when the body of a lovely widow is found on the banks of the River Teme, a bottle of laudanum at her side, the village’s inexperienced new magistrate turns to St. Cyr for help.

Almost immediately, Sebastian realizes that Emma Chance did not, in truth, take her own life. Less easy to discern is exactly how she died, and why. For as Sebastian and Hero soon discover, Emma was hiding both her true identity and her real reasons for traveling to Ayleswick. Also troubling are the machinations of Lucien Bonaparte, the estranged brother of the megalomaniac French Emperor Napoleon. Held captive under the British government’s watchful eye, the younger Bonaparte is restless, ambitious, and treacherous.

Sebastian’s investigation takes on new urgency when he discovers that Emma was not the first, or even the second, beautiful young woman in the village to die under suspicious circumstances. Home to the eerie ruins of an ancient monastery, Ayleswick reveals itself to be a dark and dangerous place of secrets that have festered among the villagers for decades—and a violent past that may be connected to Sebastian’s own unsettling origins. And as he faces his most diabolical opponent ever, he is forced to consider what malevolence he’s willing to embrace in order to destroy a killer.

The atmospheric writing of the series is a true highlight for me. It's the little details that Harris gets right. From the tree scrapping on the window to a hand even in death moving with the flow of the river.  Harris is able to pull me into the story so that I feel I'm really walking the paths of rural England. This is the first book where all of the action hasn't taken place outside of London and it's just as wonderful as if the book was set on the streets of London.

When reading a Harris book, you know that she's done her research. The effects of Enclosure were presented in such a way that the reader is able to get a sense of what it must have been like in rural England at the time. It makes a reader curious to learn more. Harris has author notes at the end of each book which points readers to books she has used for her research and more detail about some of the historical characters in her work. In this instance it was Lucien Bonaparte.

In this book Sebastian is trying to solve the murder of one Emma Chance. Secrets begin to be revealed and the murder count increases. It's up to Sebastian to work out who is telling the truth and how to uncover the murderer. There are old secrets to be revealed and often suspects only tell half the story. Sebastian persists until he can put together the chain of events. Piece by piece he is able to do so. The reader is pulled along as Sebastian discounts suspects. Even then the reader isn't 100% that a suspect isn't guilty of other crimes. Sometimes the initial image in your head of events can be completely wrong.

Hero and Sebastian are working as a team and my heart couldn't be any more overjoyed. It was a true delight to see how well they work together and to see those tender moments between them. They compliment each other so well. It felt that their relationship was continuing to deepen and going from strength to strength. The beauty of them working as a team as they can go and investigate in places the other cannot. Thus using their individual skills to solve mysteries.

Why only 4 stars over 5 stars you might ask? I think it's time that the question of Sebastian's parentage is answered once and for all. This is book 11 on the series after all and I feel that readers are ready to know. Sure there were a couple of clues at the end of series, but nothing overwhelming. It's not so much that I feel that Sebastian needs to meet his father at this point, but I do think he needs the name of his father to push the search forward. It's a series long personal mystery for Sebastian and it may mean the final review won't occur until the last page of the series is turned.

This series shows how great a master in the genre can produce and with the news that we are going to see at least fifteen books in the series, I couldn't be happier. 
All in all this series is a must read for historical mystery fans. You will not be disappointed. 



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