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When Gods Die: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery    by C. S. Harris order for
When Gods Die
by C. S. Harris
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Life has started to settle down for Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, after the harrowing events of What Angels Fear, when he himself was accused of murder. He has no intention of involving himself in the death of the beautiful Guinevere, Marchioness of Anglessey. The circumstances are sordid: her corpse is found in the presence of the Prince Regent, who had been pursuing her; she herself - the young wife of a wealthy peer several decades her senior - is with child.

Still, Sebastian is brought into the investigation. Lord Jarvis, the main power behind the throne, asks for his help in order to clear Prinny. Already unpopular with the populace for his extravagance and expensive whims, the Prince Regent cannot afford this scandal. Sebastian has no interest in helping the Prince Regent, even less in obliging Jarvis, who had tried to frame him for murder the year before. However, around Guinevere's neck is the unique heirloom necklace last seen adorning Sebastian's mother when she disappeared years before, ostensibly lost at sea. Additionally, Sebastian is angered by the callous disregard for Guinevere's death, perceived as an inconvenient embarrassment by the powers surrounding the Prince Regent.

It does not take long to determine that Guinevere died far from Brighton, and Sebastian soon suspects that her death is part of a larger sinister scheme, one that might threaten the royal house itself. He also comes to believe that the mystery is linked to his mother. His investigations make him a target, and he narrowly escapes murderous traps. When the puzzle is finally unravelled, Sebastian learns more than one unpalatable truth.

When Gods Die is a wonderful read. The author has created several fascinating characters, both those that are likeable and the despicable. Sebastian himself is a worthy protagonist; and his friends and allies - from Kat, his actress lover, to the magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy - although seemingly outmatched by the forces opposing them, refuse to be daunted. Harris also paints a bleak picture of the challenges confronting the poor and the powerless in Regency times.

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