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April 2018: Strong Women > Why Kill the Innocent - Harris - 4 stars

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message 1: by Jgrace (last edited Apr 27, 2018 11:22AM) (new)

Jgrace | 3112 comments Why Kill the Innocent (Sebastian St. Cyr, #13) by C.S. Harris

Why Kill the Innocent - Harris
Audio performance by Davina Porter
4 stars

I seem to spend a lot of my reading time in 19th century London. This series started in 1811 and has progressed to 1814 in this thirteenth book. Regency London is the setting, but this is not a drawing room romance. It begins when two women find the frozen body of another.

The dead woman is Jane Ambrose the (fictional) piano teacher of Princess Charlotte. The body is discovered by Alexie Savage, midwife/female physician and Viscountess Hero Devlin. The death is made to look like an accident during blizzard conditions. The palace ( i.e. Lord Jarvis) wants to keep it that way. Of course, Jane has been murdered and Sebastian St. Cyr needs to know who and why.

There’s a very feminist slant to this series despite the dashing, aristocratic, amature, male detective. In this story the victim is a gifted musician who must hide her talent because she is a woman. Harris uses this character to point out the historical suppression and loss of feminine genius. The misogyny of the Prince Regent and his brutal treatment of his wife and daughter add to the intrigue of the mystery.

This book has fewer chase scenes and a lower body count than previous books. But, Sebastian engages in seemingly endless interviews with suspects while trying to track down the murderer. This can become tedious except for the richness of the historical details. Jane Ambrose was also music teacher to the children of William Godwin, widower of the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Had this talented musician read the famous A Vindication of the Rights of Women? Does it matter? Princess Caroline makes and tortures a wax effigy of her royal husband while she condescends to answer Sebastian’s questions. Was Jane caught up in palace politics? There’s a London Frost Fair, and questions asked of rebellious printers advocating a free press while selling souvenirs on the frozen Thames. Each conversation adds a trickle of information that contributes to the eventual resolution of the mystery.

As an almost buried side plot, there’s Hero Devlin’s research into the government practice of impressing sailors.This leads her to attend the hanging of a destitute teenaged wife turned petty thief. However unlikely it was for an aristocratic woman to have as much social conscience as Hero Devlin, she allows C. S. Harris to write compelling scenes of the brutal realities of 19th century life. (There’s also the very satisfying way that Hero takes out a bad guy with her little muff gun. You go, girl! )

message 2: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6894 comments Sounds like a series, which I might like. As if I need to add another.

message 3: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 3112 comments ;)

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