Where The Dead Lie: A Sebastian St. Cyr Novel #12. C. S. Harris. Penguin Publishing Group. April 2017. 352 pp. ISBN #: 9780451471192.
It’s 1813 and the tastes of some of the upper class in London, England tend to the propensities of the depraved. When a young, 15-year-old boy is found dead, a rudimentary investigation finds he has been beaten, tortured, raped and then strangled by his killer. It also turns out that his younger sister is missing, and Viscount Devlin, or Sebastian St. Cyr, is absolutely horrified. Viscount Devlin is newly married to Honor and they have a child who is going through a stormy teething period. However, the deep love and contentment Sebastian feels for them make him even more horrified about the fact that so many children, including this latest murder of Benji Thatcher, have been disappearing. Sebastian knows that this is so because they are poor and of no concern to any of the middle or upper class. However, Sebastian also knows he and others like him are determined to stop this child trafficking depleting London of its youth.
As Sebastian begins to investigate, he finds one of his relatives engaged to marry someone of a dubious reputation regarding children or teens. The story is horrifying but because the perpetrators are upper class and the victims are poorer than poor their outcome is ignored.
An interesting subplot provides more fuel for riveting interest, that which concerns Sebastian’s true origins. The reader feels compelled to pay attention to details about Sebastian’s background, but the truth of the matter defies one’s best efforts at exploring and predicting the truth.
Another interesting side line involves the high trade of pornographic works of literature, the most famous being by the Marquis de Sade of ill repute. These books are bound in beautiful cover and considered works of art, while the producers of such works ignore the sordid application that such education leads to eventually.
The investigation behind this mystery goes forward in spite of the denial of many characters and eventually threatens the life of many prime characters!
All in all, this is a sordid story that enables the lives of many poor children to be saved. Sebastian is clever, practical and yet also idealistic, believing he can and does make a difference in this old mystery! Nicely crafted, C. S. Harris!