Wednesday, April 7, 2021

What the Devil Knows - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  What the Devil Knows (Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery #16) by C.S. Harris

Rating: Really Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  It's October 1814. The war with France is finally over and Europe's diplomats are convening in Vienna for a conference that will put their world back together. With peace finally at hand, London suddenly finds itself in the grip of a series of heinous murders eerily similar to the Ratcliffe Highway murders of three years before.

In 1811, two entire families were viciously murdered in their homes. A suspect--a young seaman named John Williams--was arrested. But before he could be brought to trial, Williams hanged himself in his cell. The murders ceased, and London slowly began to breathe easier. But when the lead investigator, Sir Edwin Pym, is killed in the same brutal way three years later and others possibly connected to the original case meet violent ends, the city is paralyzed with terror once more.

Was the wrong man arrested for the murders? Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy turns to his friend Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, for assistance. Pym's colleagues are convinced his manner of death is a coincidence, but Sebastian has his doubts. The more he looks into the three-year-old murders, the more certain he becomes that the hapless John Williams was not the real killer. Which begs the question--who was and why are they dead set on killing again?

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed the previous few books in the series and couldn't pass this one up.

My Impression:  I do love a good historical mystery and this series is proving to be one of the most reliable.  It's a bit darker then my usual reads without all the cozy vibes and quirky characters.  Instead the book is seriously atmospheric and the characters dip in and out of some of the most dangerous areas of London to investigate some pretty grisly crimes.  Both Sebastian and his wife, Hero are likable and sympathetic though both are familiar and deal in some of the darker areas of London.  From government corruption on the highest level to most basic mugging this book has a bit of everything.  Thankfully while the themes are darker then my normal reading and the crimes are more brutal Harris never goes into gory detail just for goriness which I really appreciate.

This is not a fast read.  While the first murder does happen within the first chapter it takes a lot of investigating for things to unravel.  That being said this isn't a slow read either.  A little bit more is revealed on each page.  Sebastian learns a little bit more or a new facet is revealed or a new theory is put out.  Pacing-wise this reminds me a bit of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series which also does an excellent job of walking the line between detailed and atmospheric without diving into info dump.  

I really enjoyed this book and I love how Harris lets the world and the mystery slowly evolve.  This is one of those series that does get better the more you read it.  The characters are complicated and I feel like I've gotten to understand them a little bit better with each book.  I've only read the most recent few but I am looking forward to going back to the beginning and reading.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm really hoping to going back and reading the earlier books and will definitely grab the next one.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy detailed historical mysteries I think you'll really like this series.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *


  1. It's on my list. I've enjoyed the books I've read in this series so I'm glad to see you liked it!

  2. Sometimes a slightly darker book is a good one to put into the mix. Otherwise we get in a rut. Wow lots of books in the series.

  3. I love this series but I am only to book 5 I think. I'm trying to read them as fast as I can which is too slow I am listening on audio because Davina Porter is magnificent. But I have lots of audio review books right now so not this month.

    Anne - Books of My Heart

  4. I'm determined to try this series at some point. I am glad you enjoyed this one.

  5. I've been curious about this series.