Aristocratic Regency detective Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, solves a series of grisly murders.
When yet another son of a wealthy, well-connected family is found slaughtered with an object stuffed in his mouth, magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy, knowing that any sleuth must have entree to the highest reaches of society, begs Devlin for help. Curiously, not all the grieving fathers are best pleased with Devlin’s investigations. A poem by John Donne provides a clue about the objects, but Devlin makes real progress only when he discovers that all the families were connected by the grim voyage of the Harmony, whose officers and passengers were left to starve when the crew mutinied. Realizing that the fathers would rather see their sons die than reveal their secret, Devlin wonders if the mutiny ended in cannibalism. Adding to his trials are ongoing problems with his lover, former French spy and actress Kat Boleyn, who still refuses to marry him. Powerful Lord Jarvis, whose son died on the doomed ship, is trying to force Kat to reveal the identity of the French spymaster. As Devlin travels from the drawing rooms of the rich to the squalid streets of London and England’s bucolic backwaters, he uncovers shocking secrets that will change his life forever.
Harris’s third Regency mystery (When Gods Die, 2006, etc.), suspenseful and meticulously researched, should garner this excellent series more devoted fans.