Where Shadows Dance, C.S. Harris
It's been a long wait for the latest in C.S. Harris' series of Regency mysteries with Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin - especially with the cliff-hanger she left us with in What Remains of Heaven.
I have been reading Georgette Heyer for more than 30 years. She set the standard for me with Regencies, and it's a pretty high standard. I'm also pretty picky about mysteries. I want real people, not cardboard characters moving around a plot, no matter how intricate or marvellous the plot. I used to read a lot of Agatha Christie, but once I discovered Dorothy L. Sayers, I found Christie's books boring or worse (the same thing happened with Dickens and Trollope).
The St. Cyr books work for me both as mysteries and as Regencies. He's an interesting character, like Francis Crawford of Lymond with secrets and family issues and hidden fault lines. And as in all my favorite stories, there is a large cast of equally interesting and human characters, from his father the Earl of Hendon to his implacable enemy Charles, Lord Jarvis. It includes an aunt, the Dowager Duchess of Claiborne, who could have walked out of a Heyer novel, as could his devoted tiger Tom.
And then there's Hero. Gelis van Borselen mixed with Harriet Vane and Drusilla Morville and Cordelia Naismith. Oh, I do hope she is going to be happy.
This book, set in 1812, had a healthy dose of international politics and a high body count. I found the twists and turns of the plot a little difficult to follow, even though the body count reduced the number of suspects each time. But that's a minor quibble about a great read.
C.S. Harris will be signing next week at MBTB, and I can't wait to hear her talk. There's another book due in 2012, I hear. It's a long time to wait.