Kim's Reviews > Where Shadows Dance

Where Shadows Dance by C.S. Harris
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Mar 21, 11

bookshelves: crime-fiction
Read in March, 2011

I really wish that I could give this book more than three stars, because there are some really good things about it. The author clearly does research the period and it is interesting to have actual people and events woven into the narrative. I also like the two main characters, particularly Hero who is full of spunk.

However, Ms Harris' writing seems to bring out my inner pedant, which is something I find hugely frustrating when I read a novel. For example, a minor character towards the beginning of the novel is Astley Cooper, who was a prominent and influential surgeon of the period. In the novel, he is referred to as Dr Cooper. However, as a surgeon of that time, Cooper did not have a university degree. Surgery students were apprenticed to surgeons; medical students (who became physicians)went to university. Only physicians were accorded the title of "Doctor". Consequently, until relatively recently the correct title for a surgeon in Britain was "Mister" and not "Doctor". Another matter which brought out my inner pedant was the reference to a church as "St George's, Hanover", rather than "St George's, Hanover Square". (This was presumably an editing issue).

A further problem with Ms Harris' writing, in my opinion, is that it demonstrates a degree of laziness. There are times when I really wished she (or her editor) would make use of the thesaurus to which they no doubt have access. Some words are particularly overused. For example, in this novel, it was "hunkered". Sebastian did not crouch, bend down, bend over or kneel. He invariably "hunkered down" and the constant re-use of the same word was intrusive and irritating. Ms Harris also constantly re-uses the same descriptions: Hendon, for example, is hardly ever introduced into the narrative without his white hair and blue eyes being commented on.

In general terms the narrative also overuses the same plot points. Sebastian and Hero, either separately or together do very little investigation which does not involve going from one place to another in London and questioning their interlocateurs, who almost invariably answer all of their questions immediately (although not necessarily truthfully). This is interspersed with bouts of activitity in which they violently and efficiently dispose of their various assailants with no apparent repercussions.

I could go on about the problems I have with this novel, but I won't. Because for all my criticisms, I still enjoyed reading it and I will without doubt read the next instalment in the series. I guess this is because I like crime fiction and I love reading about the Regency period, so a series which combines both of those elements is pretty much a sure thing for me, even if the writing is not all I could hope for.
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