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review 2018-04-10 21:57
You're Killing Me!!...
Why Kill The Innocent (Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery) - C.S. Harris

I was very dissapointed when I finished this book. I felt like Harris just shortchanged me as a reader and her characters with this cut and pasted drivel. I normally love this series but I didn't get any warm fuzzy feelings from this book at all. The whole time I was reading it I was completely bored and it was painstakingly obvious how particular sections of writing were exactly the same and located in exactly the same places within chapters as in previous books. I know some authors like to use an outline which I don't mind in increments but when the rest of the story is so boring that, that's all I can focus on then something is not right. I just got the impression that Harris put very little time or effort into this book. If you're tired of writing about your own characters, then it's time to move on and it's time for me to move on too! Don't put out half-assed written books and expect your readers not to notice or care because we will and we do.


*I received this ARC from Penguin Random House First-to-Read program in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

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review 2013-08-12 19:39
What Darkness Brings - C.S. Harris

I was very reluctant for this book to end, because it's the last one currently available in the delightful Sebastian St. Cyr series.

The book begins with one of Sebastian's former comrades in arms being found dead in a park ... shortly after the murder of Daniel Eisler, a creepy old blackmailer who has possession of a rather infamous blue diamond.

To complicate matters, Russell Yates is the accused killer -- Sebastian's friend ... and now husband of his former mistress, Kat Boleyn.

The subplot concerning Hero, Sebastian's wife, and her ongoing studies of London's poor turns out to be far more important than is initially apparent.

This is a difficult book to review without delivering spoilers, to be honest. The plot is fascinating and complicated, and fans of the previous St. Cyr books will love this one just as we do the others.

I can't wait to see what happens next!

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/294340818
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review 2013-05-31 00:00
Where Shadows Dance (Sebastian St. Cyr Series #6)
Where Shadows Dance: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery - C.S. Harris This is the sixth of the Sebastian St. Cyr novels, the which I am reading in order.In this outing, St. Cyr is preparing to marry Hero Jarvis. His friend, surgeon Paul Gibson, has paid Jumpin' Jack (the local "resurrection man") to bring him a body to dissect; he's been told a young man died of a heart attack. Well, it turns out that the young man is a murder victim -- so Gibson brings his friend St. Cyr into the mix.Of course, things immediately become complicated. The victim works for the Foreign Service ... and the Turkish delegation is in town for negotiations. Throw in the Canadian war of independence, Napoleon's advances on Russia and you get the political situation of the tale.Hero, of course, is doing some investigation of her own ... despite St. Cyr's warnings.This book is full of twists and turns as more murders take place. St. Cyr, of course, figures it all out -- and I was a little surprised at the "whodunnit," as I was sure it was someone else entirely.Fans of the series are sure to enjoy the book tremendously.
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review 2012-08-19 00:00
When Maidens Mourn - C.S. Harris
Mild spoilers ahead

I've now read six of the seven books in this series*, which is set in Regency London and features Peninsular War veteran Sebastian St Cyr, aka Viscount Devlin, and his wife, the feisty and feminist Hero Jarvis. Like lots of other crime fiction writers, Harris has a formula for these books and she pretty much sticks to it. Here's how it goes:

(a) Brief introduction;
(b) Murder is discovered;
(c) Sebastian (and Hero) become involved in investigation;
(d) Investigation proceeds, consisting of Sebastian and Hero taking themselves around London - mostly separately but occasionally together - interviewing suspects and/or witnesses;
(e) Sebastian and Hero exchange information and/or hide information from each other**;
(f) Sebastian and/or Hero get themselves beaten up and/or save themselves and/or each other and/or other people from being beaten up;
(g) Sebastian and/or Hero kill someone in self defence or in defence of someone else;
(h) Murder is solved and murderer brought to justice.

The above proceeds with the accompaniment of the requisite number of red herrings and a good sprinkling of historical information to set the narrative in place and time. This particular instalment involves Arthurian legend, French prisoners of war and the Tennyson family.

Formulaic writing does not make good literature and that is certainly true of this novel. However, it's not all that's wrong with the writing. I wrote in my review of the sixth novel in the series, Where Shadows Dance, that Harris brought out my inner pedant. The same applies in this instalment. For example, Harris uses language to set the novel in place and time, using some particular expressions to help re-create 1812 London. I don't have a problem with her doing that: the use of language is a central characteristic of the work of Georgette Heyer, who virtually created the Regency romance genre and to whom Harris clearly owes a debt. However, if a writer is going to use that technique, then it's best to avoid, for example, Americanisms. Somehow I doubt that a cook working in a genteel London household in 1812 made "oatmeal cookies".

There are other examples of sloppy use of language. "Disinterested", for example, is used more than once in the narrative. This word does not mean what Harris (or her editor) apparently think it means. In addition, Harris has a thing for the verb "to hunker down", which is used to excess. This expression also featured heavily in Where Shadows Dance. How hard would it be to find a synonym? I can think of about six without consulting a thesaurus.

There's nothing particularly unusual about formulaic writing in crime fiction and I'm not entirely sure why it bothers me in this series, or why I focus on linguistic quirks which might not concern me otherwise. But those aspects of the writing do annoy me, even if not quite enough to stop me reading the series altogether. I've been wondering why I persist with it and I don't really know the answer. Maybe it's just that since I practically grew up on Georgette Heyer romances, the Regency period appeals to me. In addition, Sebastian and Hero are quite interesting characters and Harris is good at historical research and at integrating history into her plots. For the time being I'm going to hang on to those positives and read the next book in the series when it appears. And then I'll probably complain about it.

This gets a low three stars - more like 2-1/2 stars - for the historical setting and the integration of the Tennyson family into the plot, for the appearance of a very appealing dog and for the fact that it's a quick and easy read.

*I didn't bother with #2 because I was underwhelmed by #1, but I then decided to give the series another chance and went straight to #3.

** For reasons to do with the difficult nature of their relationship and not worth going into here.
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review 2012-07-04 00:00
When Maidens Mourn - C.S. Harris The mystery in this one wasn't the strongest in the series but by now I'm so invested in these characters that it hardly matters. Sebastian is, as always, intriguing and charismatic. Hero is a perfect foil for him and if their marriage of convenience isn't a love match yet, I think this book gives hope that their grudging admiration and respect for each other is growing into something warmer. All in all, another very good entry in this historical mystery series.
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