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What Angels Fear: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery [Kindle Edition]

C.S. Harris
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

It's 1811, and the threat of revolution haunts the upper classes of King George III's England. Then a beautiful young woman is found savagely murdered on the altar steps of an ancient church near Westminster Abbey. A dueling pistol found at the scene and the damning testimony of a witness both point to one man-Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, a brilliant young nobleman shattered by his experience in the Napoleonic Wars.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in England in 1811, Harris's riveting debut delivers a powerful blend of political intrigue and suspense. When Sebastian Alistair St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is accused of the rape and murder of actress Rachel York, mistress to various members of Spencer Perceval's wobbly Tory cabinet, Sebastian goes "on the lam," in the words of young Tom, his adopted companion and faithful servant, and must spend frantic days in clever disguises chasing "across London and back." Uncanny powers of sight and hearing help him to identify several suspects, including Hugh Gordon, Rachel's fellow actor and ex-lover; shadowy French émigré Leo Pierrepoint; and even his own wayward nephew, Bayard Wilcox, who had been stalking the victim for weeks. Also implicated is portrait painter Giorgio Donatelli, for whom Rachel often posed nude, whose current patron, Lord Fairchild, is expected to be the next prime minister. Waiting in the wings to rule over this gathering chaos is dissolute Prince George (aka Prinny), soon to become regent for his incompetent father, George III. Backed by a blurb from Stephanie Barron, this fresh, fast-paced historical is sure to be a hit.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Off to a quick start with the gruesome near-decapitation and rape of a lovely actress, this fast-paced pre-Regency mystery effectively pits the sophisticated, overly mannered elite against the grimier lower echelons of 1811 London society. When his dueling pistol is found on the body, and the authorities seek to question him, Sebastian St. Cyr takes to the streets in disguise to clear his name. A bewildering cast of seemingly unconnected people leads to a labyrinthine set of clues connecting high-ranking politicians with a scheme to tilt the balance of power when the prince is made regent. At every turn, Sebastian blithely escapes capture, persistently "persuades" his suspects to talk, and woos a reluctant mistress who hides a deadly truth. The combined elements of historical fiction, romance, and mystery in this fog-enshrouded London puzzler will appeal to fans of Anne Perry and Will Thomas (To Kingdom Come, 2005). Expect to hear more from Harris' troubled but compelling antihero. Jennifer Baker
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1374 KB
  • Print Length: 364 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B003T0H7HC
  • Publisher: NAL (November 1, 2005)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,667 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderfully engrossing read November 25, 2005
By tregatt
I am especially partial to historical mysteries set in England; and my interest was piqued when I noticed C. S. Harris' "What Angels Fear" on the bookstore shelves. But I was also a little wary -- after all I had heard nothing about this book -- no advance praise or early review blurbs in magazines/web sites heralding the book's upcoming publication. Fortunately, because I work at a bookstore, I was able to borrow the book, which turned out to be a really good thing 'else I'd have missed one of the most thrilling reads of the year. What an absolutely riveting and breathtaking read "What Angels Fear" proved to be!

In 1811, George III is sinking deeper and deeper into the madness, as his politicians question the wisdom of carrying on England's war with France, as well as whether or not they should support the move to make the profligate Prince of Wales, Regent of England. But for the newly returned ex-soldier, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and heir to the powerful Earl of Hendon, the all important question is how he's going to survive an upcoming duel of honour without getting killed or killing his opponent. Having survived that ordeal however, the last thing Sebastian expected later that morning was to have a chief magistrate and a couple of constables at his doorstep, ready to arrest him for the brutal rape and murder of a young actress, Rachel York. Knowing full well that he had no hand in the young woman's murder and realising that the only way for him to clear his name is if he were to investigate the murder himself, Sebastian escapes from the constables and disappears into the bowels of London's poverty stricken streets.
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101 of 108 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and believable historical mystery February 9, 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"What Angels Fear" begins the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, of which there are currently two. C.S. Harris starts the story off quickly with the brutal rape and murder of a young actress, Rachel York. The only evidence found at the crime scene seems to implicate Sebastian, and an order is issued for his immediate arrest.

The problem, of course, is that Sebastian didn't commit the murder, and slips away from the arresting constables to try to solve the murder on his own. He puts himself into Rachel's shoes and starts to learn as much as he possibly can about her life with the hope that this knowledge will bring him closer to the real killer.

About three chapters into the novel I had the sense that I was reading a quasi-romance story. Small things tipped me off: lingering on a description of a physical characteristic, an attribute given to a character that pushes the boundaries of suspension of disbelief, that sort of thing. I kept reading, the sense grew stronger, so I flipped to the back of the book to see if there was information about the author. There was...and she had also written award winning historical romances!

Not sure how the rest of the book would turn out, I continued reading, and found that I wasn't much bothered by the elements of the story that were slightly dramatic and would have lent themselves better to romance than a mystery.

The characters are all very well drawn and believable, and the Georgian feel of the novel is also well drawn and believable.

3.5, rounded up to 4.
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61 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I found much of the writing of this book to be stilted and dry. It was also obvious this was Ms. Harris' first book as it didn't flow very well. I also found the whole idea of a police force run like modern day British police to be a bit of a laugh. As another reviewer mentioned, the police didn't act like this in England for at least another 50 years. Believe me, I'm British, and grew up with stories of Robert Peel (the founder of the British Bobbies) and the like. Sebastian also needs to learn some new language as "Bloody Hell" was said at least 30 times during the book and, in many cases, in a way a true Englishman wouldn't say.

Having said this though, I did give Ms. Harris' second book a try and it was much better. Flows more, more natural speech patterns and more interesting. I'll definitely buy her third book as it looks like a fun read.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Debut of a New Author and Hero March 14, 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Before I get to why you should read this book let me just say that if you enjoy literate historical mysteries of any era you'll want to read this book. It is well-written, perfectly paced, populated by interesting characters and has a murder mystery that is actually a mystery.

C. S. Harris does a fine job of conveying period detail and developing her characters while telling a compelling story. Her hero, Sebastian St. Cyr, will remind readers of Kate Ross's Julian Kestrel with his wit, filmy past and talent for solving murders. This is high praise from me, I love Kate Ross's books. But I'm even more reminded of Dorothy Dunnett's Francis Crawford. Sebastian St. Cyr's disrepute, haunted past, and latent idealism cloaked in cynicism could give Crawford of Lymond a run for his money in the troubled hero sweepstakes.

St. Cyr finds himself accused of one gruesome murder and the main suspect in an attempted murder. Not willing to risk his life to a justice system that is more intent on quieting the matter than solving the crime, he escapes to investigate the murder himself. His investigation takes him into the world of French spies, Jacobins and scandal. The secondary characters are interesting and Harris doesn't overdo the cockney dialect.(Written dialects and accents can really get on my nerves.)

The first chapter starts a bit slow but the actions picks up considerably in the second chapter. After that the pages fly by. This is a great, fun read. The perfect escape after a hard day of work. Here's hoping that C. S. Harris has many more Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries to bring us.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A certain keeper and re-read.
Has it all, smooth writing style, excellent characterization and good mystery. This series is going onto my list of keepers and re-reads.

Anne in Virginia
Published 2 days ago by Anne
5.0 out of 5 stars What Angels Fear
I have been 're-reading this Series as I wait for the new one to come out next Month. I love these books as the stories are well planned and plotted. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Cheryl L. Kruger
3.0 out of 5 stars Unsure of how I feel. . .
This book really deserves 3.5 maybe four stars. I am not really sure. I liked the mystery and that I didn't completely predict "who dun it. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Star Child
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Very good book, lots of twists and turns. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.
Published 10 days ago by susan e james
5.0 out of 5 stars Up until midnight
A great story the characters were wonderful I did not guess the ultimate villain until he introduced himself even then I expected something else to happen. Read more
Published 18 days ago by IRENE FROM TN
4.0 out of 5 stars Hang on tight!
Sebastian is a modern hero in historical dress. A character with intelligence and an athlete who takes you through great action sequences. Read more
Published 21 days ago by C. Karen Tynes
4.0 out of 5 stars Regency mystery
This book is a Regency mystery with a good plot and an interesting cast of characters. However, I felt like I was trapped in a revolving door. Read more
Published 1 month ago by B. Mckee
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun
Fast paced, well written mystery with characters crafted to please the reader and move the story along. Looking forward to the next adventures in the series.
Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter the world of Mad King George's England...
Although this is a debut novel and the first in he Sebastian Sr. Cyr series by C.S. Harris, it is diligently researched, well written and completely captivating. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joymarie Pavarini-Jaecks
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent start to the series - loved it
Excellent start to the series - loved it! Very much in the tone and interest of Anna Lee Huber's Lady Darby series.
Published 1 month ago by Annette Meier
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More About the Author

An Air Force brat who grew up exploring castles in Spain and fishing in the mountains of Oregon and Idaho, Candy later worked as an archaeologist and earned a PhD in European history. She now writes the Sebastian St. Cyr historical mystery series under the name C.S. Harris and coauthors a series of contemporary thrillers as C.S. Graham. Married to retired Army Colonel Steve Harris, she lives in New Orleans. Visit her website at

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