# 2 of the Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries
June, 1811. On a summer's evening at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, the beautiful young wife of an aging Marquis is found dead in the arms of the Prince Regent himself. From her back protrudes a jeweled dagger that once belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Around her neck lies an ancient bluestone and silver necklace said to have been worn by the Druid priestesses of Wales. Legend credited the necklace with mysterious powers—until it was lost at sea with its last owner, the mother of Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin.
Still shadowed by rumors of his own dark past, Sebastian is lured into a dangerous investigation of both the Marchioness's death and his own mother's uncertain fate. He soon discovers that the idle, profligate Prince is not as innocent as his court handlers would have the public believe. With the aid of his lover, a celebrated actress with secrets of her own, and his new servant, Tom, Sebastian follows a twisted trail that leads from a seaside pleasure palace to the most depraved London slums, from the murdered woman's elegant townhouse in Mayfair to a medieval tavern run by an ex-slave.
As he edges closer to the truth, Sebastian finds himself thrust into a world of hidden passions and disguised ambition. And when one murder is followed by another, he confronts an insidious conspiracy that imperils those nearest to him even as it threatens to bring down the monarchy.
This was another face paced, suspenseful, and enjoyable read. Since this murder throws suspicion on Old Prinny (the Prince Regent), we again have political suspects vying among those who had issue with the deceased. To add even more mystery to the mix, the deceased Marchioness was wearing a necklace that was last seen on Sebastian's mother, before she died at sea. What what? Not only does Sebastian have to solve this murder without ruffling feathers, he must also deal with how this necklace turned up and his feelings regarding his mother's death. When she died, life become extremely tough for Sebastian. This aspect of the story makes the reader adore Sebastian even more. Yes, he is rich and titled but even the aristocracy can have a messed up childhood.
We also can't forget Sebastian's "secret" relationship with Kat, the famous actress whom society deems seriously unfashionable to be involved with. But Sebastian doesn't care what others think. This is what allows him to solve these mysteries and still be so charming. He fights for the innocent victims and ensures they receive justice. As in the first novel, this story also contains chase scenes through the streets of London, confrontations, and lovable secondary characters, such as Sebastian's new servant Tom and his friend/old comrade/surgeon....sorry I forget his name;but that doesn't make him any less fun!
All in all this was another quick and enjoyable read, that drowned out the real world as I read it. Although this is the second in the series, I do believe this is a stand alone mystery. I can't wait to get to the next one :)
The author's website: http://www.csharris.net/index.php
My Rating: 95/100
Publisher: SIGNET (Penguin)
Genre: Historical fiction/mystery
Paperback 377 pages
Book Source: the library
2011 Challenges Met: Mystery & Suspense, HF