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When Falcons Fall by C. S. Harris
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When Falcons Fall

by C. S. Harris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries (11)

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11314106,831 (3.98)17

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Ayleswick-on-Teme, 1813. A young girl is found dead on the banks of the River Teme with a bottle of laudanum by her side. The local constable thinks it's suicide, but the young inexperienced magistrate is not so sure and turns to Sebastian St. Cyr for help. Sebastian is in the village with his wife and young son to visit the family of a dead friend. But, he is also there trying to find out more about his ancestry. Now, he must figure out who would kill a young girl who just like Sebastian came to Ayleswick-on-Teme to find out more about the past.

Sebastian St. Cyr is one of my favorite series, and I have read all books except the one previous (going to buy it as soon as the paperback version comes out) and I've been looking forward to reading this one. Sebastian, Hero, and little Simon are in the little village to pay respect to Jamie Knox grandmother and to give her a gift from Jamie. Jamie must have been killed in the previous book because I haven't read about it and it saddens me that he is gone since I quite liked Sebastian half-brother. Sebastian is trying to find his father and also figure out where a necklace he has comes from. But, he must also find out who would kill Emma Chance, could it have something to do with her trying to find her father? Or is there a greater plot going on with Napoleon's brother Lucien Bonaparte staying close by the village?

There is a lot going on, the village has lots of secrets, and it seems that the more Sebastian digs in the past the worse it gets with more people getting killed. It seems that there is a killer loose and the person in question will do anything to silence the ones that can give him/her away.

When Falcons Fall is one of the best books in the series, the case is deeply tragic especially for Sebastian who feels for the young dead girl who just like him only wanted to find out who fathered her. It's a page-turner and it was hard to figure out who was behind the murdered, especially since the suspects kept dying like flies.

This is a series that just keeps getting stronger and I can't wait to find out what will happen next for Sebastian, Hero, and Simon.

4.5 stars

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review.

Read this review and others on A Bookaholic Swede ( )
  MaraBlaise | Apr 14, 2017 |
Wow, how does C.S. Harris keep us on the edge of our seats, reading well into the night,,, and incorporate local intrigue with the politics of the times? Amazing. Enjoyed this book immensely. ( )
  fbswss | Apr 8, 2017 |
Sebastian St. Cyr, together with Hero, Simon, Claire, Tom, and a mountain of luggage, is in the village of Ayleswicke, for two purposes: to deliver the mechanical singing nightingale to Jamie Knox’s grandmother, and to try to find further information regarding the triskelion necklace and his own ancestry.

He is not there to solve murders, but wherever the poor man goes, people start dropping like flies. It almost makes you think someone is doing it on purpose. The very young Squire and Justice of the Peace requests Sebastian’s help in solving what is initially only one murder but soon becomes several, both forward and back in time.

The story is engrossing, and Sebastian and Hero work together beautifully as always - this story focuses on Sebastian and Hero, rather than Sebastian and Tom (and, of course, Paul Gibson is back in London so doesn’t appear). Once again, I was struck by how smooth the writing is - the story just flows along, until all the little clues and hints that one should have spotted first time around come together at the end. There is enough historical detail to give the reader a definite sense of time and place (and to show that the author has done her research) without being obvious about it. The one thing I could complain about is the number of times people’s faces or jaws went slack - it’s a little niggle, but one of those things that seems to leap out once you’ve noticed it.

All in all, a very satisfying read. ( )
  T_K_Elliott | Mar 12, 2017 |
Note: There are necessarily spoilers for previous books in this series.

Background:

This is the eleventh book in the historical crime fiction series set in Regency England, this one in August of 1813, and featuring Sebastian St. Cyr, the thirty year old Viscount Devlin. In the first book, he was suspected of a murder he did not commit, and had to become something of a Sherlock Holmes to find the real murderer to save his own skin.

In subsequent books, he was consulted on murders that involved the nobility, because he had an entrée into the upper level of society that would have been denied to the regular police. He agrees because the thought of anybody stealing away someone else’s a life is an abomination to him, especially after the traumatic instances of unjust murder he witnessed in the army, and for which he still feels guilt, even though he could not have prevented any of it.

Devlin is aided by the counsel of his friend, the surgeon Paul Gibson, who serves as a Watson to St. Cyr’s Holmes, as well as by Sir Henry Lovejoy, now a "Bow Street Runner" (detective) who has become a friend of Devlin’s. Devlin also has his young horse handler Tom, a former street urchin, to do reconnaissance work for him.

You may also wish to consult my post on "An Introduction to the Regency Era."

As this book begins, Devlin and his family-entourage, including his wife of one year, Hero, and his six-month old son Simon, have journeyed to Ayleswick-on-Teme. Devlin had reason to believe there would be clues there about who his real father was. (Ever since Devlin learned the truth about his parentage, that he “was not, in fact, a son of Alistair St. Cyr but the bastard offspring of one of the Countess’s many nameless lovers,” he had become desperate to find out who he really was: “It was as if a yawning hole had opened up inside him that he was both desperate and terrified to fill.”)

His quest is interrupted by a murder in the village, with the new Squire appealing to Devlin for help. A young woman, Emma, was found suffocated, and as Devlin makes further inquiries, other people start dying as well. And when Devlin suspects that Emma was trying to discover who her real parents were, Devlin feels a kinship with her, and is determined to get justice for her.

In the meanwhile, Hero begins an investigation of her own, into the effects of the Enclosure Acts on the villagers. This was a series of acts by Parliament by which large landowners were allowed to enclose open fields and land previously used in common by local people. The Acts made the wealthy even more so, and drove many peasants into poverty.

As the author notes, because each landlord pursued his own bill through Parliament on an individual basis, the seizure of land by the rich progressed piecemeal thus militating against a unified, widespread resistance. But local instances of disorder were not uncommon, and the punitive "Black Act," passed in 1723 (and not repealed until 1823), introduced severe penalties for protest activities including poaching. As one character explained, The Black Act introduced the death penalty for more than fifty new offenses, most of which entailed countrymen trying to exercise the ancient communal rights of which they’d been deprived. Those found guilty were hanged, transported to the prison colony in Australia's Botany Bay, or forced into the army. "Wives, mothers, sisters, children, all left behind to fend for themselves, just when prices were rising and they’d lost all their old common rights. Was an ugly time, it was.”

Indeed, Hero and Devlin find that the disruptive effects of an enclosure act on Ayleswick-on-Teme may be behind the murders happening now.

But there are complications, as always. Lucien Bonaparte and his family, living in exile for nearly three years, are also in the area. Both Paris and London are wary of him and have spies watching him. Are the murders related to his presence?

Discussion: Most of this book is given over to social and political history. But there are still interludes in which we learn of the growing closeness of Devlin and Hero and their son Simon:

“They had first come together just fifteen months before, in a desperate affirmation of life in the face of looming death. But death had not come. Instead, from those raw, tentative, unexpected beginnings had come Simon and a love so powerful and uplifting that it still filled him with a shaky wonder.”

“Sebastian loved both mother and child with a passionate tenderness that awed, humbled, and terrified him.”

Evaluation: This is not my favorite of the series, since there isn’t much space devoted to the recurring characters. Still, one can’t deny learning a great deal from the stories, with a number of crimes thrown in to add tension and interest. ( )
  nbmars | Dec 23, 2016 |
Sebastian St. Cyr - Need I Say More...

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, the most delicious male protagonist you'll find in a historical mystery series. He's back with his wife Hero & his infant son, Simon in his latest mystery, When Falcons Fall.
 
Sebastian, along with his family, has traveled to the small village of Shropshire in search of information about his own birthright when the body of a young widow is found on the river bank. Deemed a suicide by the local constable, Sebastian agrees to take on the investigation because he's not altogether convinced that's the case. Lucien Bonaparte, the estranged brother of Napoleon Bonaparte just also happens to be staying in the area which leads Sebastian to think that this suspicious death might have wider implications then he's been lead to believe.
 
This was another solid mystery by Harris! The entire series has been fantastic actually. I've ranked every book either 4 or 5 stars so if you're in the hunt for a new armchair hottie, you can't go wrong with the Regency's hottest Viscount!  ( )
  EmpressReece | Aug 22, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
C. S. Harrisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lutfi-Proctor, SamanthaAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mollica, GeneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Say, will the falcon, stooping from above,
Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove?
...
Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings?
Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings?


--Alexander Pope
Dedication
In memory of Banjo, Scout, and Indie,
my three forever-kittens
First words
Ayleswick-on-Teme, Shropshire
Tuesday, 3 August 1813


It was the fly that got to him.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451471164, Hardcover)

The much-anticipated new entrée in the Sebastian St. Cyr “simply elegant”* historical mystery series, from the national bestselling author of Who Buries the Dead and Why Kings Confess.

Ayleswick-on-Teme, 1813. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has come to this seemingly peaceful Shropshire village to honor a slain friend and on a quest to learn more about his own ancestry. But when the body of a lovely widow is found on the banks of the River Teme, a bottle of laudanum at her side, the village’s inexperienced new magistrate turns to St. Cyr for help.
 
Almost immediately, Sebastian realizes that Emma Chance did not, in truth, take her own life. Less easy to discern is exactly how she died, and why. For as Sebastian and Hero soon discover, Emma was hiding both her true identity and her real reasons for traveling to Ayleswick. Also troubling are the machinations of Lucien Bonaparte, the estranged brother of the megalomaniac French Emperor Napoleon. Held captive under the British government’s watchful eye, the younger Bonaparte is restless, ambitious, and treacherous.
 
Sebastian’s investigation takes on new urgency when he discovers that Emma was not the first, or even the second, beautiful young woman in the village to die under suspicious circumstances. Home to the eerie ruins of an ancient monastery, Ayleswick reveals itself to be a dark and dangerous place of secrets that have festered among the villagers for decades—and a violent past that may be connected to Sebastian’s own unsettling origins. And as he faces his most diabolical opponent ever, he is forced to consider what malevolence he’s willing to embrace in order to destroy a killer.


*Lisa Gardner

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 10 Jul 2015 22:02:19 -0400)

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