Why Kill the Innocent: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery. C. S. Harris. Penguin Publishing Group. Copyright April 2018. pb. 352 pp.; ISBN: 9780399585623.
Jane Ambrose is music instructor to Princess Charlotte, the presumptive heir (before Victoria) to the throne in England in London in 1814. The Regent of Charlotte is doing everything in his power to get the Princess engaged to royalty in Denmark so that he can continue his rule unopposed. Jane is a brilliant composer although as a woman she cannot publish her works under her own name. A tragedy, however, cuts short her life and it is Sebastian St. Cyr’s wife, Hero, who finds Jane’s broken body in the snowy streets of London. Certain clues, however, indicate that Jane was murdered elsewhere but the killer obviously dragged her body into the street thinking the awful snowstorm would hide her, allowing the murderer to escape any chance of arrest.
The famous couple sets out to investigate the crime and all clues lead back very close to the seat of royalty. Hero also demonstrates a compassionate side in assisting the wives of men who have been impressed into the Royal Navy, leaving wives and children penniless and often homeless.
It also turns out that Jane’s husband was a violent man who just might have discovered Jane knew a secret that would have necessitated him permanently silencing her. Jane’s brother is an enigmatic character who was formerly imprisoned for speaking out against government policies. He also has a huge secret which might be lethal but will actually be elicited as something even more amazing.
This is a non-stop, page-flipping, wild and intriguing romp through London’s fashionable, aristocratic society as well as in the dregs of poverty on the “other” side of London. Murderers, however, are fierce but cowardly creatures who think too highly of themselves. Several more characters will die by the time Sebastian and Hero immediately after the famous winter Frost Fair have it all figured out, the reader never suspecting the “who done it” side of the mystery.
This is a fine historical mystery that will delight all lovers of the genre and many more besides. Plan on staying up late as this is a novel one can’t put down until the last page is finished! Finely crafted, C. S. Harris; a real treat!