A collector of grisly relics meets the same fate as his most cherished items in this Regency tale.
When the body of a man parted most ignobly from his head is found next to a strap from the coffin of Charles I near the Bloody Bridge in London, it’s definitely a case for Sebastian St. Cyr, former soldier, current Viscount Devlin and future Earl of Hendon. The victim, Stanley Preston, was a cousin to the Home Secretary and former prime minister, and the investigation of his murder calls for someone with Devlin’s dash, good looks, golden eyes (so different from the St. Cyr blue) and entree into the best homes in London. Preston’s murder also brings Devlin to some of the most unsavory neighborhoods—and takes him far from his reform-minded wife, Hero, and their infant son. The owner of a plantation in Jamaica, Preston was also well-known for his acquisition of odd souvenirs of history, including, it’s rumored, the head of Oliver Cromwell. Now that someone apparently enticed Preston to the bridge with the promise of an especially fine specimen, Devlin must work to sort out the roles played by a ruthless purveyor of ghoulish curios, a young man who might or might not be a relative of Devlin, the young soldier forbidden to marry Preston’s daughter and the daughter herself. Sedate banker Henry Austen may have more information than he’s revealing, and Austen’s sister Jane has a secret of her own. But a link to Devlin’s former commanding officer increasingly drags the viscount back into the darkness of his own past, and not even his aptly named wife may have the power to save him.
Disembodied heads and royal corpses play almost as great a role as the living characters in the 10th installment of St. Cyr’s adventures (Why Kings Confess, 2014, etc.). Even though a long-overdue face-off falls curiously flat, the complex, brooding protagonist still dominates the action.