Saturday, April 10, 2010

What Angels Fear

On a foggy morning in London, days before the Crown Prince becomes Regent for the mad old king, Viscount Devlin is minding his own business in much the same way he has since he sold out his commission in the army and came home from the Napoleonic Wars, waiting for his opponent in his fourth duel in six months.  At the same time, a murdered young woman is discovered drenched in blood in a church, and the evidence points to Devlin.  A young constable is mortally wounded during his arrest, and Devlin decides on the spot that his only chance of vindication is to investigate the crime himself, even though that means fleeing from the law.

I've read a lot of Regency romances in my day, so Regency mysteries are right up my alley as well.  This one reminded me of the short-lived Julian Kestrel series by the late Kate Ross, not only for the setting but for the author's unflinching look at the underside of London society--something that most of the romances don't even consider, or gloss over.  Devlin is an intriguing character, and the supporting cast are all well-drawn.

This book is the first by C.S. Harris, a New Orleans author {edit to add: at least under that name; she's also written romances as Candice Proctor, and thrillers as half of C.S. Graham} ; the second novel is called When Gods Die, and I've got my name down for it at the library where I work.

As a side note, not long ago I also read Jane and the Barque of Frailty, the latest in Stephanie Barron's series featuring Jane Austen as the sleuth.  In this one she was in London to oversee the publication of her first novel, whereas previous volumes had been set in various parts of the country; so this one was more like the romances I'd read, with its social round.  It also dealt with less respectable characters, but in a more genteel way, mostly evading the hard necessities of a courtesan's life; a scene where the current star of the demimonde explains in no uncertain terms just what made her run away from her family seems out of place, almost anachronistic.

Originally posted at MySpace 1/1/07

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