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Where Serpents Sleep (Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries) [Mass Market Paperback]

C. S. Harris
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 4.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Where Serpents Sleep (Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries) + What Remains of Heaven (Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries) + Why Mermaids Sing (Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries)
Price For All Three: 14.06

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Book (3 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451226658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451226655
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 10.3 x 16.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 140,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This author took some chances with this book. 31 Aug 2009
By J. Lesley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I usually do better research when I buy a mystery novel. For some reason unknown to myself I started this series with book number four. In some ways I'm sorry I did that, but in others I just can't be sorry about reading such a fine novel.

Sebastian St. Cyr is one of those "gentleman" sleuths who wandered about Regency London in search of a puzzle to solve. Except that doesn't even begin to describe what actually happens in this story. C. S. Harris has written a wonderful novel with so many layers to her characters that I felt at times as if I had jumped in at the deep end of the pool. It probably would have been better to have started with the first book, just to get all the characters into their proper pigeonholes. Since I made a mistake and read the fourth book first I just had to try a little harder to catch up. And catch up I did. This book can be a stand-alone. Kat and Sebastian ended their relationship eight months previously. The revelation for why that relationship ended is something I've never encountered before in a period mystery. I was actually shocked when I first realized what had happened. Kat has since married someone else and Sebastian has been trying to drown his sorrows by staying drunk. When he is first presented with the question of whether or not to help Hero Jarvis uncover the reason for the brutal murders of the prostitutes in a safe house he doesn't want to become involved. However, the temptation to use any means possible to get back at Hero's father is just too tempting for him to resist. He will use the daughter to get to his sworn enemy.

My main reason for giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 comes from the sheer number of victims. After a while I actually lost count of how many people died during the telling of this story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A don't-bother-me-I'm- reading story 3 Dec 2008
By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWER
First Sentence: The girl stared out the window, one hand sliding up and down her shawl-covered arm in a ceaseless, uneasy motion.

Hero Jarvis is a reformist working on a theory as to what drives women to prostitution. She is also daughter to a cousin of the Prince regent. While interviewing one of the women, Rose, who had clearly been a gentlewoman, men break into Magdalene House, a shelter for women trying to escape the life, with Rose the object of the search. Rose and Hero escape the house, but Rose is shot and killed.

Hero appeals for help in finding out who Rose really was and why she turned to prostitution, to Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin. When Devlin learns all the women in the house had been murdered and the house burnt down and any investigation stopped, he agrees to help her

Each time I start a new book, I hope for the best and I certainly got it here. As with all of Harris' books, this was a don't-bother-me-I'm- reading, one-stop read.

The characters are wonderful. Hero is an intelligent, gutsy, independent and appropriately named. Devlin is a former soldier, recovering from heartbreak and in need of a new challenge. Then there is Tom, 14-year-old former pickpocket now Devlin's `tiger' who takes care of the horses, James Calhoon, the son-of-a-prostitute valet, and Paul Gibson, invalid ex-army doctor who conducts autopsies. All the characters are well done and actual historical characters are used in realistic, appropriate ways.

Harris provides a detailed view into both the ballrooms and the back alleys of Regency England. Devlin may be fighting for his life in the afternoon and heading off to Almak's in the evening. Both events are handled with style and panache.

I love good dialogue. Ms.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 15 April 2009
This book, which is one novel in a series by C.S. Harris, is great. The period is well portrayed, and the characters are extremely well developed. I have read each book in the series and eagerly await for the next to come out.
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Once again, author C.S. Harris sends our awesome Sebastian right into the bowels of hell as he assists Hero Jarvis in helping to determine why 8 women were killed in a fire at the Magdalen House - a kind of refuge/home for prostitutes sponsored by the Society of Friends. Hero was doing research at the house in her efforts to get a bill passed in Parliament for the relief of indigent females when the home is overrun by persons intent on doing harm to some of the residents. Rose, the prostitute Hero is interviewing goes nuts believing they are there to kill her and indeed, although Hero escapes, Rose is shot, the house is set on fire and 8 women burn up.

Since Hero knows the fire was set to hide the fact that at least one woman was shot, she goes to Sebastian for assistance in determining why Rose was a target of murder. Sebastian has had 8 months of wildness, drinking, riding to the hounds in his ongoing spiral toward destruction in his efforts to deal with his situation with Kat Boleyn. Of course, his actions aren't doing the job, so this reader is ever so thankful for Hero's intervention in his life to give Sebastian something to preoccupy his mind and heart, even if it is dealing with the dark world of crime and criminals.

This storyline gives Sebastian and Hero a lot of time together and sets up their relationship for some interesting choices for their respective futures. Although I do like Hero, I find her a little too cold for my taste but what can one expect having been raised by her evil, conniving, cold, hard father - Charles Jarvis. I find the fact that Hero seems to have a fairly good relationship with her father of some concern. Nevertheless, her time with Sebastian can only serve to soften her up.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  75 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page-turning, exciting, twisting, historical mystery... 13 Dec 2008
By A. Lee - Published on Amazon.com
In this fourth book featuring Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin (previous: WHAT ANGELS FEAR, WHEN GODS DIE, WHY MERMAIDS SING), Sebastian is still shaken by the personal events that occurred in the previous book, drinking too much, sleeping too little and unable to forgive his father for the last episode in a long-troubled relationship.

Hero Jarvis, the very independent daughter of Sebastian's enemy, the manipulator behind the scenes of Regency power and politics, Lord Jarvis, comes to Sebastian to ask him to look into the deaths of eight prostitutes--murders that the authorities are not interested in pursuing. One of the dead was a prostitute who was obviously of gentle birth. It is her situation that intrigues Hero. She and Sebastian investigate her past, separately and together, in hope it will lead to the killer or killers.

Hero was introduced in the earlier books, but never played more than a small part until now, but she was always intriguing. She and Sebastian have a charged relationship, with more elements of dislike than like, which makes their pairing interesting.

Sebastian has his dark side, but his interest in solving murder mysteries and finding some sort of justice for the victims remains foremost in his life, no matter what else is going on, which happily keeps him from ever seeming to mope or become angst-ridden. The main characters, as well as the secondary characters, are all well-drawn and fascinating.

The mystery is also involving, with glimpses into the London underworld of prostitution houses and procurers and patrons, and also into private lives of the well-to-do that could lead a woman to fall into the life. There are also plenty of action scenes and threats of death and bodily harm. Amazing that the characters could be at Almack's or a Picnic at some time in the day and then battling for their lives in the taverns and deserted roads only hours later.

The historical details are all convincing and the overall writing quality is excellent.

I found this book less intense and complex than the last book (which remains a favorite), but it was still a page-turner. I adore this series and hope it continues for a long, long time.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well worth the wait! 15 Dec 2008
By Farin - Published on Amazon.com
Like previous reviewers, I've been a huge fan of this series from the beginning. Sebastian St. Cyr is easily one of my favorite historical mystery heroes: he's smart and witty, but extremely human in that he has to combat his demons from the past and his feelings of inadequacy around his father. He also has freakishly keen senses, which makes him even more interesting! In the last installment, Why Mermaids Sing, he had something extremely traumatic happen to him, and I was anxious and excited to see how he would deal with it in Where Serpents Sleep.

We find out right off that he's been drinking and gambling himself into oblivion, and it's a request from his arch enemy's daughter, Hero Jarvis, to help solve a string of murders at a Magdalene House that pulls him out of his vicious cycle to destroy himself.

The mystery takes the reader into the underworld of prostitution and exposes the utter indifference that the upper classes felt for those women, despite the fact that one of the murdered prostitutes was well born. It also touches on a possible conspiracy behind the assassination of Spencer Perceval and an England desperately trying to hold itself together while clashes with both France (under Bonaparte) and the U.S. threaten to unravel everything.

Sebastian is as well written as ever. He's battling a lot more in this book than usual, but it only drives him to work harder at solving the case. When he does get lost in those dark and traumatic thoughts, it's heartbreaking.

I had a sneaking suspicion that, after the events of Why Mermaids Sing, Hero Jarvis would be brought to the forefront. She and Sebastian were very evenly matched and perfectly aware of how to use each other and drive each other crazy. I loved watching them work together, and I hope to see some more of that in the next book.

I could not put down this book, and now I'm kicking myself for finishing it so fast, because though Harris is working on the fifth book, there's no indication yet of when it will be available. I need to know what happens! Now!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Class in Progress 14 April 2009
By MJS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's not every day I find myself doing this: buying extra copies of a book and giving them to friends with entreaties to "read this, you'll love it." Lately I've bought four extra copies of C. S. Harris first book, What Angels Fear, and gifted them to fellow mystery fans. It's my version of doing the Lord's Work.

There are many reasons to read this latest entry in the series: excellent evolving characterizations, a smart central mystery and the sort of edge-of-your-seat action dozens of thrillers promise every year yet so few actually deliver. After four books it's clear that C. S. Harris is qualified to teach a master class on a number of topics. Take her ability to start a thriller out with a bang - just the right amount of set up and then right into the action. Where Serpents Sleep starts with Hero Jarvis in the midst of one of her blue stocking studies having a conversation with a prostitute when all hell breaks loose. It's nothing short of brilliant and the tension never lets up without once seeming forced.

Harris packs in a few twists in both the central mystery and the on-going interactions of the recurring characters. I'm a fan of mystery series though I always get antsy when the recurring characters take up too much of the narrative - call me shallow but I'm in it for the mystery. Harris always strikes just the right balance between delivering the mystery goods and involving the reader in the lives of her recurring characters. (Martha Grimes and Elizabeth George, take note!)

If you love mysteries or thrillers or historical fiction, if you're a fan of Kate Ross or Dorothy Dunnett (or even Georgette Heyer), give C. S. Harris a try. Start at the beginning with What Angels Fear, if you can, but you won't lose too much by starting with this excellent entry. If you still aren't convinced and you have a Kindle, take an advantage of the free sample chapter. What have you got to lose, right? And you can look forward to joining me in all but stopping strangers on the street and urging them to read these books. The Sebastian St. Cyr series is that good - read one book and you may find yourself giving copies to your friends.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the series, so far 28 Dec 2008
By J. L. Steigerwalt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Sebastian St Cyr novels are currently the only ones I buy in hardcover simply because I cannot wait to get my hands on them; waiting for the paperbacks would drive me insane. I adore the (anti)hero, Sebastian, and the very real relationships drawn in these books.

This one pulled out all the stops, especially in characterization. Miss Hero Jarvis, daughter of Sebastian's enemy, is delineated just perfectly-- just the right amount of vulnerability peeked through her intriguing hard exterior. Kat Boleyn, in her new role, did not appear as much as in previous novels, but enough to show the exquisite agony of impossible love between herself and Sebastian. The other place in which Ms Harris succeeds incredibly well is in atmosphere-- her research is impeccable, the descriptions evocative without being overly detailed (and therefore detracting.)

The mystery works well, as does the way in which Sebastian becomes drawn into it. (There is little in the way of moving forward in the over-arching mystery which surrounds Sebastian's mother, but it is mentioned.) The plot is self-contained, but I would highly recommend reading the previous books first, and it clearly leaves doors open for future novels as well (which I want immediately, personally.)

I hated to leave the world of this book, but I was so drawn in that I finished it in just two sittings.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great period mystery. 29 Sep 2009
By Super Soprano - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed all the previous books in this series, and really liked this one. Well written, holds your interest, accurate depiction of the historical period.
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