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Who Slays the Wicked

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Who Slays the Wicked (2019) C.S. Harris

Set in London in 1814

Lord Ashworth has been discovered naked and repeatedly stabbed in what looks like a crime of passion. But finding the murderer is a daunting prospect.

“Do you have any idea who might have killed him?” he asked Stephanie. “Someone who disliked him?” she suggested, her nostrils quivering with a pinched look. “That should narrow the list of suspects down to virtually everyone who ever dealt with him.”

Sebastian’s problem is that the murdered man is the husband of his niece–a marriage that Sebastian tried to talk her out of, knowing Ashworth’s brutal reputation. And the fact that it looks like he was murdered by a woman makes Stephanie an even more likely suspect, even if there are plenty of others who hated him.

“His lordship had a long-standing belief that tradesmen, shopkeepers, and merchants should consider themselves honored to be given the privilege of serving him. Saw their demands for actual payment as something of an insult, he did.”

There are several other threads running through the book–Sebastian’s continued problems with his sister, Hero’s relationship with her father (who would just as soon seen Sebastian dead) but I do like that Sebastian and his father have resolved their differences and have a decent relationship now, as well as the strength of Sebastian’s marriage to Hero.

Sebastian was in his dressing room, dabbing at the blood on his face, when Hero came to stand in the doorway. “One of the housemaids tells me my husband came home covered in blood. I assumed she was exaggerating. Obviously, I was mistaken.”

Hero might love her father, but she knows what kind of man Jarvis is, and cannot trust him.

The other thing I appreciate about this series (like isn’t the correct word at all) is how she constantly points out just how terrible life was for so many people during the regency. Hero is something of a bluestocking, who uses her position in society to being light to the situation of the poor in London. And to be clear, like was horrible.

The basket and glove marked the woman as a “banter” or “pure finder,” one of that army of desperate souls who eked out a miserable living picking up dog feces to sell to the tanneries of Bermondsey, where they were used to dress the skins of calves and lambs. It was called “pure” because, thanks to the feces’ astringent and alkaline properties, it could be used to scour and “purify” the leather.

Every slab, every shelf, was piled with two or three bodies, and far too many of them were children.

“A boy come into the workhouse a few weeks ago with the measles,” said the attendant, shuffling ahead of them toward the back of the foul room. “It’s taken off pret’ near ’alf the young ’uns, it has, and more’n a few of the older ones too. We can’t keep up with burying ’em.”

I like this because I’ve read several historicals where the hero supposedly grew up on the streets, yet is tall and muscular and fit and has all his teeth etc. That just annoys me to no end.

A dozen pairs of eyes watched Sebastian cross the foul-smelling, low-ceilinged, smoke-blackened room. His was a strange face in a neighborhood wary of strangers. His clothes might have come from a secondhand stall, and he’d rubbed grease and ashes into his hair to obscure its stylish cut. But he could do little to hide his cleanly shaven face or the tall, leanly muscled build that gave silent witness to a lifetime of good, nourishing food.

Although it was convenient, I was very glad to see Stephanie’s husband gone from the story, and hope that means she’ll have a decent like for the rest of the series. Because Stephanie might not have been poor, but she was a woman, and in many ways her life was just as terrible as that of the poor.

Please note I’m rating this book compared to the others in the series. It is very good, and you should definitely be reading this series, but I can’t say it’s one of the strongest mysteries she’s written.

Publisher: Berkley
Rating: 8.5/10

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



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