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on 11 February 2011
I had high hopes of this novel, based on the other reviews I have read of it, and the blurb on the jacket. Was I disappointed, well yes and no. The author has clearly done a lot of historical research and much of it shows - the atmosphere is evocative of London in the Regency period. But there do seem to be some glaring anachronisms. Would a Regency Lord have sworn using the word "F--k"? I will stand corrected but find it very unlikely. Similarly I am not convinced he would have said "screwing around" either. Using modern dialogue would have worked if it had all been modern but it was also littered with contemporary Regency slang and the two forms sit uneasily next to each other. Tom, the Cockney pickpocket befriended by Lord Devlin, talks in a strangulated cockney part of the time, and regular english the rest. When he decides to attach himself to Lord Devlin, he then makes a short speech explaining as his reason how he admires and values honour and honesty as taught him by his mother, deported as a criminal. oh Yeah. Similarly the heroine Kat Boelyn is supposed to be Irish with Irish sympathies. The only problem with this is that Boelyn is an English surname of French origins and not Irish at all.

The plot races along very fast and there are a lot of well written actions scenes, probably the best part of the book, as the hero flees from the Bow Street Runners and hides in London's underworld while trying to clear his name. This is all very readable, but to move the story along takes some clunky plotting by the author. There are several dialogues set pieces where various characters turn out to be in possession of essential facts for rather contrived reasons and then reveal these to the the hero for no very good reason. This makes the plot development rather contrived. The sex scenes are well written enough but frankly redundant. So a good background marred by the author's indecision on whether to use modern or contemporary dialogue and a good racy plot marred by some clunky plotting. One for the plane journey.
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on 18 January 2014
Historical crime novel set in London in the early 1800s. The hero, the villain(s), the harlot, the fog, the urchin, the Bow Street Runners, plenty of cheap gore, not too visual sex, history, politics, the chasings, the secrets all promise a great read for lovers of the genre. It is all there, written in a plain prose, characters lightly depicted, no inner torments analysed too in depth, always ready for action, the bad ones lose, the good ones win. London is rainy and grimy, the cobbles are wet and slippery and clothes reek of dampness and soot. The plot is easy to follow right from the beginning. A book to read while waiting in queues or on long journeys or to help you go to sleep since you can't stop yawning. Not a good historical novel in any sense - at all, more often than not verging on the ridiculous (as in the occurrence in chapter 7, or worse, in chapter 34 when the main character becomes a sort of Errol Flynn in one of his cloak and dagger films, or when the author makes him "... prop a hip on the edge of ...carved Jacobian - excellent spelling by the way - desk, one leg swinging back and forth as he levelled the Cassaignard flintock at ..." ). The prose is terribly banal and there are too many unnerving repetitions; there is no richness in descritption neither of the characters nor of the setting (another cringing feature was the name of an inn the hero at a certain point decides to frequent, so predictable). Basically the only likeable and honest character is the urchin Tom. Not to mention the disagreable name of the hero typical of bodice ripper books. It seemed written with no real feeling or understanding neither of the era nor of the place it is set in. Readers who enjoy good historical novels such as the Pike Mysteries or books by authors such as Lee Jackson might not like this one. I certainly didn't.
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on 18 September 2014
The positive: The author has an excellent style and draws the atmosphere of the period well, The plot itself is enmeshed in the Regency politics and has the reader guessing till the end. However the negative is the central character. It is not that he rather aloof and perhaps has the air of a tormented Mr. Darcy - it is that he comes from the wrong century. The author has imbued him, perhaps hoping to appease selective portions of the readership, with a societal and political outlook which would not be out of place in a Guardian subscriber, but this continuous anachronistic streak is out of place of Regency England. I'd probably read the next in the series due the the author's skill, but would not read a third if the same issues persist.
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on 20 August 2015
It’s 1811, and the threat of revolution haunts the upper classes of King George III’s England. Then a beautiful young woman is found raped and savagely murdered on the altar steps of an ancient church near Westminster Abbey. A dueling pistol discovered at the scene and the damning testimony of a witness both point to one man, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, a brilliant young nobleman shattered by his experience in the Napoleonic Wars.

Now a fugitive running for his life, Sebastian calls upon his skill as an agent during the war to catch the killer and prove his own innocence. In the process, he accumulates a band of unlikely allies, including the enigmatic beauty Kat Boleyn, who broke Sebastian’s heart years ago. In Sebastian’s world of intrigue and espionage, nothing is as it seems, yet the truth may hold the key to the future of the British monarchy, as well as to Sebastian’s own salvation….

19th century’s version of ‘The Fugitive’.

A race through the start of the Regency period London to find a murderer.

A page turner from start to finish.

Enjoyed this book so much that I have already started the second book ‘When Gods Die’.
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on 23 October 2017
I worship at the feet of C.S.Harris! :-) If you love a mystery filled with intrigue AND set in the Regency period then imho you can't go wrong with any C.S.Harris book. There is a touch of romance without frippery and any overshadowing of the plot, but that said very much necessary to the plot. Sebastian is a dream, a complex man with his own demons to fight due to his own intriguing past, a past that just gets more complex with each book read. His complexities only enhance his wonderfully multi layered, deeply caring character, a man whose main aim is to seek out the truth of each given mystery Other 'main' characters in each book are as carefully crafted as Sebastian and make a wonderful foil to his own character. C.S.Harris has the ability to take you straight into the plot, you are there watching and experiencing the action, an acomplishment that imho proves the ability of a truly gifted author.
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on 30 July 2017
I enjoyed this book and am going to recommend it to my friends and buy a copy for my mum, who will also enjoy it.
C.S. Harris writes a romping, well-paced mystery, which evokes the era well. Yes, the enigmatic hero and clever heroine are both very enlightened for their time, but I like that and it doesn't distract from the intriguing plot and great historical atmosphere of the novel. All aspects of the 'establishment', government, judiciary etc. were both avaricious and cruel during the Regency and there was a constant fear of revolution and riot amongst the lower orders. Harris captures this tension well.
My only complaints are about the dodgy kindle formatting (especially at the start of chapters) and the occasional Americanism (period, screwing, bum leg. Bum wasn't used as an adjective until 1859 - and is more commonly used in this form in the US.)
But a thoroughly enjoyable read, overall.
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on 22 August 2010
In coming to the end of a series of historical crime novels which I had really enjoyed, I was on the outlook for a replacement. I have found it in the St. Cyr books. I like the period and became genuinely fond of the characters very quickly. Each book in the series has had me enthralled. I could have done with a little less gore - but the other aspects kept me involved and working out the threads which move from book to book.

Because of the latter point, do try to read the books in order.

Well done - a great read.
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on 15 February 2015
A handsome, cynical yet honourable hero? Check. A beautiful, intelligent and spirited love interest? Check. A winsome street urchin? Check. A dastardly villain who is really dastardly and a powerful 'eminence grise' lurking in the shadows? Check and check. Ms Harris ticks all the right boxes with her Sebastian St. Cyr books. Light fiction? Yes, but a jolly good read, enough to keep my attention to the end. A minor quibble is that in the course of the book Sebastian makes so many 'daring' escapes from his pursuers that in the end I couldn't help wishing that he would be a little less of a superman and just get captured and have done with it. However, a minor beef. I liked this enough to want to read further books in the series where I'm sure further character development awaits.
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on 17 February 2008
Young nobleman Sebastian St Cyr finds himself framed for the violent murder of a young actress. Urged by his family to flee to continent, instead he goes into hiding in the more disreputable areas of London whilst pursuing his own investigation into the murder, ably aided by a surgeon from his army days, an ex-lover actress and a pick-pocket lad.

Very entertaining, with a good twisty plot and plenty of action. The complex politics of the era make an interesting backdrop and Sebastian St Cyr himself makes a very dashing lead,(if slightly too egalitarian to be a fully convincing Regency nobleman). The murder scene has a certain amount of gore, but nothing you can't skip over if squeamish.
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on 7 February 2016
I have read all of the Sebastian books and they are very good but the way the writer keeps constantly harping on about how the nasty old Brits have treated everybody grates after awhile. What about the wicked treatment of the Portuguese by the Napoleonic French army? Not to mention the Germans causing two world wars in a later period. As far as I'm concerned the Kat Boleyn character should be seen as a disgusting traitor and it beggers belief that a man of integrity as Sebastian is supposed to be, and an ex soldier, would have anything to do with her. Harris seems to ignore the fact that the British army at that time was made up of about thirty percent men of Irish nationality, so Kat would actually be betraying her own countymen by being a spy for the French.
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