I love historical mysteries, especially the English ones. The time peiod doesn’t matter; right now I’m following several series from different centuries.
Some crucial ingredients for historical mysteries, at least in my mind, are characterization, period detail, and mood. And of course, a mystery that keeps you guessing until the end, with plenty of plot twists and reversals. A little romance thrown into the mix isn’t bad, either!
Two series I’ve been into lately are C.S.’s Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, set during the Regency, and Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Gray mysteries, which are Victorian. They make an interesting contrast: the first with a male protagonist, the second, a woman.
Sebastian St. Cyr, the dashing Viscount Devlin, is our hero in Harris’s books. There are now four of them: What Angels Fear, When Gods Die, Where Serpents Sleep, and Why Mermaids Sing. Devlin is handsome, smart, brooding, fearless, and his life itself is a mystery of sorts. He was not in line to inherit his father’s title, but his two older brothers both died young. He feels he’s been a disappointment to his father, especially because of his liaison with Kat Boleyn, an actress. In the third book, he finds out the real reason his father is so opposed to their romance, and it’s devastating. But, of course, all may not be what it seems.
Lord Jarvis, Devlin’s archenemy, is the man running the government, for all intents and purposes, given that the ridiculous Prince Regent is now king. You can count on Jarvis pulling strings in the background, working against Devlin in some devious capacity. His daughter, Hero, introduced in the first book as a somewhat lackluster spinster, becomes more intriguing in each book, and in the fourth one, she and Viscount Devlin develop a more personal relationship.
Adding to the mix is Sebastian’s uncanny and almost supernatural ability to see in the dark and hear sounds most normal people would miss. We also have a mystery surrounding his mother. Initially, we believe her to be dead, but we now know she’s alive, living in France. At the end of the last book, it looked as if Devlin was on his way to mending his relationship with his father. One can only wonder, now, what will happen between Devlin and Kat; Devlin and Hero; and Devlin and his mother!
Harris has a new book coming out later this year, so we won’t have to wait too long for more of Viscount Devlin’s adventures. In a future post, I’ll talk about the Lady Julia Gray series.