Monday, May 19, 2014

Why Kings Confess by C.S. Harris

First Sentence: Paul Gibson lurched down the dark, narrow lane, his face raw from the cold, his fingers numb.

A murdered French physician and a woman with no memory send Sebastian St. Cyr into the world of the ex-patriated French royal family and the mystery of the “Lost Dauphin”: the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who is presumed dead. Or is he?

The story begins with descriptions, not of elegant and refined London, but of dark, dangerous alleys and death. With each chapter, the story becomes more intriguing and compelling. The dialogue conveys the style of the period.

St. Cyr and his new wife Hero are very likable characters. Hero is pregnant and the arcane ideas of preparing a woman for delivery are terrifying. It’s nice to see that St. Cyr has moved on from his past and grown. Harris is very good at describing emotion, particularly the animosity between St. Cyr and his father-in-law, St. James. Nicely, all of the characters are very well drawn; none are short-changed. Each is brought to life in our mind’s eye.

There are a number of historic figures included in the story in ways, if not wholly accurate, are appropriate to the story. There is history we learn which is not that of which we learned in school and is terrible. At the same time, it is critical to the story. However, the historical information related to the peace negotiations between the English and Napoleon’s delegation, which conflicts with the English crown wanting the Burbons restored to the throne, is fascinating. The statement “We like to think we’re more civilized, more honorable, more righteous than our enemies, but we’re not….And once you realize that, it does rather beg the question: Why am I fighting? Why am I killing?” is true of any country, in any age, that engages in war.

The story is very well plotted, mixing history and fiction seamlessly. The numerous sub-themes--PTSD, phantom pain, privilege, childbirth and others--add depth to the story. The plot twist adds interest.

Why Kings Confess” is one of the best books in the St. Cyr series so far.

WHY KINGS CONFESS (Hist Mys-Sebastian St. Cyr-England-1813) - VG+
Harris, C.S. – 9th in series
An Obsidian Mystery, 2014

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