Title: When Falcons Fall (Sebastian St. Cyr 11)
Author: C. S. Harris
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 2016
Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, his wife Hope, and their infant son Simon have traveled to the peaceful Shropshire village of Ayleswick-on-Teme to pay their respects to the family of a friend. At the same time, Sebastian hopes to gain some more insight and answers to the secrets of his own mysterious heritage.
Emma Chance is a young widow who has also traveled to Ayleswick in search of answers to her own ancestry, but when she found dead along the banks of the River Teme with an empty bottle of laudanum by her side, the Constable quickly rules it suicide. Archibald Rawlins, the Squire of Ayleswick, has only recently risen to the title following his father’s death; he is inexperienced and young but feels that there is more to the widow’s story. Having discovered that Sebastian worked at times with Bow Street and had some success in solving murders, Archie asks for his assistance at the disapproval of the constable.
When Sebastian views the young woman’s body, he immediately knows that it was murder. However, the more Archie and Sebastian dig into the woman’s life, they quickly discover that she is not who she was said to be and her death could possibly have international implications.
Is her death somehow tied to Lucien Bonaparte, brother to Napoléon, who has sought asylum along with his family at the local estate of Northcott Abbey? What about the deaths of two other young women that were ruled suicide in the past fifteen years? Why is Hannibal Pierce in town? Pierce was a former captain in the dragoons who now works for the king’s cousin, Charles, Lord Jarvis, who also happens to be Hero’s father. Could the secrets of Sebastian’s own troubling ancestry be tied to the murder? More murders occur and the truth may be the link between the past, the present, and the future.
I have been waiting for this book since March 2015 . . . when Sebastian book 10 was released!!! I love this series! Although definitely part of the aristocracy, Sebastian’s past as a soldier defines his need for justice and restitution. His own questions about his past and his previously-thought-dead mother drives his insatiable curiosity and quest for answers. His intense personality is at times contradicted by his passion for his wife and son and his sense of honor. He is truly a complex and flawed human but the reader is drawn to his compassion and loyalty and accepts his frailty more than he does. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the growth and depth of this character develop over the course of eleven books. The author has done an amazing job at truly allowing the character to grow and done so by seamlessly allowing it to occur with the varied plotlines.
This is the first novel to not be set in London, and although I missed the presence of Paul Gibson and Hendon, this story line allowed Sebastian to serve as a mentor to young Squire Rawlins. As the setting and all the characters are completely new, the reader feels to be making the discoveries right along with Sebastian. Although Jarvis is not in the story, his presence is definitely made through the character of Hannibal Pierce and it becomes clear that Jarvis’ power and control is all-encompassing.
I also really enjoyed watching how Sebastian and Hero took on the roles of husband and wife and mother and father. Traveling with an infant is not easy at any time in history and it was fun to watch their roles adapt to both their personal and professional needs. Once again, Hero is a strong sounding board to Sebastian’s inquiries while still doing some investigating on her own. I really liked seeing her in a maternal role as well.
Not all of Sebastian’s ancestry questions are answered, but there is progress made. I can’t wait to see what is revealed in the next story.
Who might like this book:
This is definitely one of my top two most favorite historical mystery series. They are very well plotted and the characters are engaging. The story lines tend to be a bit darker than some of the mysteries I read and there is a great deal of historical research. I find that I have to concentrate a lot on how the history is evolving, along with the plotline. I think I enjoy the seediness of the stories because they almost have a “true crime” feel . . . set in Regency England. I can’t recommend these books enough!
If you haven’t read any of the series, start them in order. Secrets are revealed along the way and you don’t want to spoil anything by reading out of order!!
What Angels Fear
When Gods Die
Why Mermaids Sing
Where Serpents Sleep
What Remains of Heaven
Where Shadows Dance
When Maidens Mourn
What Darkness Brings
Why Kings Confess
Who Buries the Dead