Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction, historical mystery, mystery
Series: Sebastian St. Cyr #12
Published by Berkley on April 4, 2017
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
The gruesome murder of a young boy takes Sebastian St. Cyr from the gritty streets of London to the glittering pleasure haunts of the aristocracy . . .
London, 1813.Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is no stranger to the dark side of the city, but he's never seen anything like this: the brutalized body of a fifteen-year-old boy dumped into a makeshift grave on the grounds of an abandoned factory.
One of London's many homeless children, Benji Thatcher was abducted and tortured before his murder—and his younger sister is still missing. Few in authority care about a street urchin's fate, but Sebastian refuses to let this killer go unpunished.
Uncovering a disturbing pattern of missing children, Sebastian is drawn into a shadowy, sadistic world. As he follows a grim trail that leads from the writings of the debauched Marquis de Sade to the city's most notorious brothels, he comes to a horrifying realization: someone from society's upper echelon is preying upon the city's most vulnerable. And though dark, powerful forces are moving against him, Sebastian will risk his reputation and his life to keep more innocents from harm . .
The dead lie in multiple meanings of the word AND in multiple places in this twelfth entry in the long-running, utterly marvelous Sebastian St. Cyr series.
The dead, and their deaths, circle around three points: a serial killer, a supposedly lost work from the pen of the late Marquis de Sade, and lost, missing or abandoned children. Those are three topics that sit uneasily in the mind separately, together they are a nightmare.
Or rather, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin’s nightmares – and he already has PLENTY of those to keep him awake on entirely too many nights.
It begins with a child’s dead body, as a midnight burial is interrupted by an old soldier with a long-standing grudge. But it’s only the first body that’s found in this frequently macabre tale of murder and privilege. Benji Thatcher, abandoned, abused, stabbed, raped and killed, was not the first body to be murdered in such a heinous manner – only the one whose accidental discovery leads to more.
Too many more as Devlin discovers. Even more horrific, there are also too many people in the circle he is supposed to be a part of who don’t give a damn. Along with at least one who is adding to the body count even as Devlin does his damndest to see him hanged.
That he fails isn’t on Devlin, but rather, on the privileges of a society that protects both him and the killer – even as it fails to protect those without that privilege. Those like the children abandoned on London’s streets because their parents have been transported to remote penal colonies such as Georgia, or Botany Bay.
As well as those who have the misfortune to have been born female – no matter their class – not even the most privileged. Not even Devlin’s own niece who could still be saved – but refuses to let herself be.
Escape Rating A-: This one is a really hard read. It’s excellent, just as the entire St. Cyr series is, but this one is difficult because there’s just so much tragedy and horror uncovered within its pages.
At its heart, this is a story about lost children, and all the ways that society (not just his but also, frankly, ours) allows children to be lost, abandoned and abused. These children are being preyed upon because no one will miss them and the killer knows it.
And has exploited their position, over and over again, because they know they are so privileged and so protected that even if they are suspected, which they are and have been long before St. Cyr becomes involved, few will believe they could possibly be guilty of such heinous crimes and even then there are people in very high places who will guarantee they never pay.
Wrapped around the ongoing horror of finding not one but three mass burial sites, there’s a story about a lost child who is found, an adult child who loses a parent to an untimely death, a formerly lost child who recognizes that he has found a home, and a lost child who finds his way back to a home he once rejected.
With one child’s, as well as their mother’s, tragedy yet to come in the later books in the series.
This entry in the series is of the ‘read ‘em and weep’ variety, as everyone in Devlin’s true circle is as harrowed and horrified as the reader – which is made infinitely worse by the people who are informed but simply refuse to care. If “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” then there is more evil in the world than even Devlin can fix – and he is made all too aware of that in this entry in the series.
My reading of Where the Dead Lie completes my ‘catch-up’ read of this series, so I’ll be waiting with the proverbial ‘bated breath’ for the forthcoming new entry, What Cannot Be Said, currently scheduled for publication in April of 2024. And in the meantime, I have the readalike Wrexford & Sloane series to catch up with, as it reads quite a bit like the St. Cyr, series would read if we were viewing the Regency from Hero Devlin’s perspective rather than Sebastian’s.