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Why Kill the Innocent

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Why Kill the Innocent (2018) C.S. Harris

Set in London in 1814

Hero is researching the wives of men who were pressed into the royal navy, specifically, how those women are often left destitute when their husbands are kidnapped off the street.

After visiting one such woman, Hero literally stumbles over the body of a woman she knows–Princess Charlotte’s piano instructor. Because of her relationship to the princess, the death would have been reported as merely a mugging gone wrong, but Hero knows it was more than that, and so Sebastian helps her look into the death.

There are several difficult aspects to this book. The first is just how awful the prince regent is.

When one of the doctors ventured to suggest that a simple solution might be for the Prince to moderate his food and alcohol intake to avoid aggravating his gout, the Prince roared, “It wasn’t because of the port and buttered crab, you fool! I lay awake all night fretting about that Brunswick bitch. She is plotting against me again. I know it.”

The man all but locked his daughter away, both as punishment of her mother, and because the people appeared to like her more than him.

The second hard thing was the reminder of how limited the lives of women were–even when they weren’t poor.

She said it’s one thing to write an opera or symphony but something else entirely to find an orchestra willing to perform a piece composed by a woman.”

“Ah, yes, I can see that.”

“When her brother James was alive, he actually published some of her pieces as his own. She said he hated that she didn’t get credit for them, but he thought they deserved to be performed and he knew that was the only way it would happen.”

“Did (he) ever hit her?”

Maxwell nodded again, his nostrils pinched. “He gave her a black eye at least once that I know of. And several times he left a mark on her face, just here—” He touched his fingertips to his left cheekbone at exactly the same place where someone had struck Jane moments before she died.

“She told you he hit her?”

“No. She always came up with some tale to explain the marks— she’d even laugh at herself for being so clumsy. But she wasn’t clumsy. She wasn’t clumsy at all. I could never understand why she protected him the way she did.”

But the hardest part was the research Hero was doing into the wives of men pressed into the navy.

“It’s not right, what we do. Kidnapping men and carrying them off as essentially slaves to serve on our warships, all without a thought to the wives and children they leave behind to starve.”

That’s bad enough, but knowing that a young mother had been sentenced to hang for stealing food–and knowing there was nothing Hero could do about it–was utterly heart-rending.

There are also of course the normal threads going through the book–Sebastian’s relationship with his father, Hero’s relationship with her father (who keeps threatening to kill Sebastian), Gibson and Aleix; I think it’s getting harder to fit all those relationships into the story I think, but I’m glad she made the effort, because the glimpses are important reminders of the lives the characters have beyond the mystery.
Rating: 8.5/10

Publisher: Berkley

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery     Comments (0)    



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