Who Slays the Wicked? – Sebastian St. Cyr. C. S. Harris. Penguin Publishing Group. April 2019. pb, 352 pp.; ISBN #: 9780399585654.
A very evil nobleman who is married to Sebastian’s niece, Stephanie. This quickly turns into a “was” married when he is found murdered in the most foul manner possible. Years ago, he was responsible for a string of murders of young boys. Lord Ashworth has some deviant sexual habits and is a very nasty individual with a habit of not paying his bills and sneering at those who demand payment. When Sebastian asks who would want Lord Ashworth dead, the answer is obviously anyone and everyone who knew him. Although this is the 14th St. Cyr novel, it’s a stand-alone that’s so very well worth reading.
So does one go after the poor vagabond prostitutes in the neighborhood or the other noble lords and ladies in London, especially quite a few from Russia here to encourage and celebrate a wedding of their own arrangement? All have a reason to hate Lord Ashworth’s dead or alive guts. The size of a blood stain even suggests that a small woman committed the gruesome deed, maybe even his wife Stephanie whom the Lord had married only to get an heir or he would have been cut off from the family money.
What’s most interesting about this novel are the potentially guilty characters who carry an obvious hatred of the dead victim but also have a coldness about them that wouldn’t think twice about killing a person. Motives boil down to they would just plain like to do it and no you wouldn’t get a smile with that verbal admission.
There’s a double whammy message here about how the aristocracy couldn’t care less about the suffering and cruel circumstances of the poor beggars, prostitutes, and local ragpickers, of whatever age. St. Cyr has an obvious caring heart and this makes him sensitive to the suffering around him, a trait his beloved wife also shares.
One also gets a good picture of the politics of the time. Politicians are out for money and not the good of their constituents. Covering up evil deeds is par for the course.
This is a grand read with plenty of rumors, hints, scandals, etc. for those trying to figure out the mystery before the main character does. Fine crime novel that will keep you enraptured for hours and hours – enjoy and then go for the other St. Cyr novels – all masterfully crafted!