Sebastian St. Cyr investigates the mysterious life and death of a nobleman convicted of murder in this enthralling new historical mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Why Kill the Innocent....
It's June 1814, and the royal families of Austria, Russia, and the German states have gathered in London at the Prince Regent's invitation to celebrate the defeat of Napoléon and the restoration of monarchical control throughout Europe. But the festive atmosphere is marred one warm summer evening by the brutal murder of a disgraced British nobleman long thought dead.
Eighteen years before, Nicholas Hayes, the third son of the late Earl of Seaford, was accused of killing a beautiful young French émigré and transported to Botany Bay for life. Even before his conviction, Hayes had been disowned by his father, and few in London were surprised when they heard the ne'er-do-well had died in disgrace in New South Wales. But those reports were obviously wrong. Recently Hayes returned to London with a mysterious young boy in tow--a child who vanishes shortly after Nicholas's body is discovered.
Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is drawn into the investigation by his valet, Jules Calhoun, an old friend of the dead man. With Calhoun's help, Sebastian begins to piece together the shattered life of the late Earl's ill-fated youngest son. Why did Nicholas risk his life and freedom by returning to England? And why did he bring the now-missing young boy with him? Several nervous Londoners had reason to fear that Nicholas Hayes had returned to kill them. One of them might have decided to kill him first.
At the start of Harris's solid 15th whodunit featuring aristocratic Regency sleuth St. Cyr (after 2019's Who Slays the Wicked), St. Cyr is astonished to learn from Jules Calhoun, his valet, that Nicholas Hayes, an old friend of Calhoun, has been fatally stabbed at a London tea garden. St. Cyr believed that Hayes, an earl's son, had died a few years after being convicted of murder and transported to Australia 18 years earlier in 1796. Calhoun reveals that Hayes, who managed to return to England by stealing a dead man's identity, got in touch with him and asked for his help, but didn't specify what for. St. Cyr delves into the related questions of why Hayes took the step of coming to London at the risk of summary execution and who was responsible for his murder, which inevitably require probing the crime that led to Hayes's being sent to Australia the killing of the wife of a French count. Once again, Harris weds a twisty plot with convincing period detail. This long-running series shows no sign of losing steam.