Monday, April 13, 2009

Where Serpents Sleep; CS Harris

Where Serpents Sleep is the latest installment in C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series. Published by Obsidian in November of 2008, it takes place in May of 1812, several months after Why Mermaids Sing. As I mentioned in my reviews of the previous books, HERE and HERE. I don’t think it necessary to read the previous installments of St.Cyr’s mysteries unless you are interested in the depth of characterization and the back story of St. Cyr’s family history and his love life. I try very hard in these reviews not to give away significant plot details while still giving readers a sense of what did and didn’t work for me as well as a general overview of the story.

A little history is helpful though. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is heir to the Earldom of Hendon after the untimely death of his older brother. Devlin’s sister, I think her name is Amanda, is older, married, conventional and seems to dislike both her father Alistair and her brother. The Countess of Hendon was presumed deceased in a boating accident years ago until Devlin recently learned otherwise. Devlin’s lady love, the Irish actress Kat Boleyn, is now out of reach, having lately married a pirate. Yes, really. A pirate. The hows and whys of this turn of events is related in the previous book Why Mermaids Sing.

In Where Serpents Sleep our hero is pressed into investigating the disappearance of a young prostitute who was being helped by Devlin’s nemesis’ daughter, one Miss Hero Jarvis. Ms. Jarvis is interested in doing good works and is an intelligent and curious young woman. Her own father says in effect that Hero would’ve been a wonderful son, but makes an awful daughter. One of Ms. Jarvis’ particular interests is helping prostitutes get off the street to learn a trade. In one horrifying incident a young woman is murdered in Hero’s arms while the building that houses them burns to the ground. Hero wants Devlin to investigate this young woman & find out how and why she ended up as a prostitute. Devlin acquiesces only because he knows that helping her will infuriate her father, Lord Jarvis (who happens to be the power behind the throne & thus nearly unstoppable).

The prickly relationship between Lord Jarvis, Hero and Devlin was fun to watch. The relationship between Hero & her dad was unique & ..on the cold blooded side, I guess. Then again, the glimpses into the Jarvis household prove once again that surface appearances hide the truth in the deeps. Honesty compels me to say that I found the whole 'sea cave scene' to be straight out of the romance genre- a little unusual, I suppose, but not wholly unexpected. I would've been pleased if the scene had played out differently. It sets up intriguing possibilities for future books.

Overall, another enjoyable episode in the St. Cyr series. Well worth the time!

Image found on Fantastic Fiction.


ReneeW said...

I enjoyed this book as well and I thought it was the best mystery of the series. I completely agree with you about the relationship between Jarvis, Hero, and Devlin, very entertaining. I was a bit put off by her name (Hero - for a heroine - very odd). But I really ending up liking her. Very strong and intelligent heroines are my favorites. And I loved the 'sea cave' scene. I am seriously curious about how Harris is going to resolve the relationship with Devlin/Hero versus Devlin/Kat. I guess I will have to wait till the next couple of books but I am rooting for Hero. Or maybe Harris won't resolve it at all in which case I won't be a happy camper. :)

Chen said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this one! I loved the development of the character Hero. I think expanding on her character allowed a more in depth view of Devlin. I have to say it appears I'm a singularity when it comes to the sea cave scene. The many comments about predictability was lost on me. I was completely blind-sided. I remember I sat up in attention right quick when I read that chapter. But now it has me waiting in anticipation for her next book "What Remains of Heaven" due out in November 2009.

Bookwormom said...

Hi Chen!

I suppose the cave scene could be construed as a surprise given the antagonistic nature of their relationship up until that point. I have to say, though, that romance genre readers anticipated what would happen it was very predictable. The scene was well done & certainly furthered the potential plot complications for future titles.

TO Renee W~ Very late reply, but I'm rooting for Hero- Devlin too. :) She's a great foil for him.