Who Speaks For The Damned by C.S. Harris
Published: April 2020 – Berkley
E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley
It’s June 1814, and the royal families of Austria, Russia, and the German states have gathered in London at the Prince Regent’s invitation to celebrate the defeat of Napoléon and the restoration of monarchical control throughout Europe. But the festive atmosphere is marred one warm summer evening by the brutal murder of a disgraced British nobleman long thought dead.
Eighteen years before, Nicholas Hayes, the third son of the late Earl of Seaford, was accused of killing a beautiful young French émigré and transported to Botany Bay for life. Even before his conviction, Hayes had been disowned by his father, and few in London were surprised when they heard the ne’er-do-well had died in disgrace in New South Wales. But those reports were obviously wrong. Recently Hayes returned to London with a mysterious young boy in tow–a child who vanishes shortly after Nicholas’s body is discovered.
Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is drawn into the investigation by his valet, Jules Calhoun, an old friend of the dead man. With Calhoun’s help, Sebastian begins to piece together the shattered life of the late Earl’s ill-fated youngest son. Why did Nicholas risk his life and freedom by returning to England? And why did he bring the now-missing young boy with him? Several nervous Londoners had reason to fear that Nicholas Hayes had returned to kill them. One of them might have decided to kill him first. (publisher)
My take: Who killed the disowned third son of an Earl? That is what Sebastian St. Cyr (Viscount Devlin) wants to find out. And what happened to the young child who came to Devlin’s valet Calhoun after the murder and then disappeared? They need to find him before the person responsible for Hayes’ death finds him as well. This installment of the series had a different feel than the two others I’ve read. A missing child is worrisome. He’s not from England so where would he go? Sebastian investigates. He feels a certain empathy with the deceased man and wants to learn the truth in case he can clear Hayes’ name. As usual, there is the discovery of more dead bodies in the aftermath of Hayes’s murder. The lengths someone will go to keep up appearances is remarkable. With the assistance of his wife Hero and a few other regulars who fans of the series will recognize, Sebastian is determined to solve the case. I really liked this mystery and wonder if there are more for Lord Devlin to solve. Recommended to fans of historical mysteries.