When Falcons Fall by C.S. Harris
NAL: March 1, 2016
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: Free From Publisher
C.S. Harris’ eleventh installment in her Sebastian St. Cyr series takes the dashing viscount out of London and into the countryside when Sebastian and his wife investigate Sebastian’s mysterious parentage. However, Sebastian’s personal quest is stalled when, during their stay at Ayleswick-on-Teme, none other than Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew discovers a young woman’s body. The young squire charged with seeking justice is quick to ask for Sebastian’s support and it soon become apparent that this is no suicide. Now, Sebastian and Hero are caught up in a local investigation with too many suspects and a disturbing personal connection.
What is there to say about this latest installment? Other than it’s fantastic, as usual. If you’ve been following the series from its inception, you will be pleased by the progression in Sebastian’s investigation of the truth of his parentage. But what really stands out is the detail that the author includes in the setting. Like the previous books in the series, When Falcons Fall is highly atmospheric; however, this newest book is refreshing because the author takes readers out of the city and into the countryside. This change of scene has important consequences for the mystery as Sebastian doesn’t have his usual co-conspirators to assist. Rather, Sebastian has to rely on the very young Squire who is responsible for maintaining justice in the area, a constable that is all too eager to rule the death a suicide, a “doctor” that is more interested in tending to his cows than an autopsy, and a coroner that refuses to be late for his own social engagements. It was interesting seeing our intrepid investigator in this novel surrounding and engaging with characters that were not as quick to take Sebastian at his word.
Despite Sebastian’s lack of resources, he does still have his wife’s assistance. Sebastian feels some regret for involving Hero in his investigation as he worries that it takes her away from her own work. Hero, of course, is inclined to help Sebastian, and, as always, it’s nice to see their partnership in action. The author doesn’t manufacture drama in their marriage and these two work together so competently. That said, I almost feel like their marriage has been too perfect for the past few books, I’m almost waiting for the other shoe to drop and for there to be some sort of more personal problem for the pair of them.
As for the mystery, Harris once again includes historical figures and details unique to the time period. Napoleon’s estranged brother, Lucien Bonaparte happens to be staying in the very village where the murder occurs, and it seems that it just might have an impact in why the young woman was murdered. The historical element was integrated seamlessly into Harris’ mystery and I loved that it always has an impact on the case that Sebastian is working on. Fans of the history element will not be disappointed with When Falcons Fall.
Historical details and mystery development aside, what keeps me coming back to this series is the characters of Sebastian and Hero. I love that they have a partnership in solving crimes and I love the fact that Sebastian questions his having involved his wife in his investigation, yet that doesn’t stop him from asking her for help. No sheltering of the wife here. Sebastian and Hero are a formidable team, but both remain interesting on their own. What I was somewhat disappointed with in When Falcons Falls is that there wasn’t much change in Sebastian and Hero’s relationship. Everything pretty much stays the same with them. That isn’t a bad thing, but I always like seeing their interactions outside of the current case and I wouldn’t have liked more of that in When Falcons Fall.
By the end of When Falcons Fall it’s clear that Harris still has a lot of material for her historical mystery series and the change of scene in moving her characters outside of London breathes new life in the series. When Falcons Fall is another great addition to the Sebastian St. Cyr and I can only hope for many more books in the series.
For another series that also does the historical details really, really well check out Teresa Grant’s spy series featuring married couple Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch. If you’re a fan of Sebastian and Hero’s partnership you will love the dynamic between Malcolm and Suzanne. Start with book one, Vienna Waltz. And for why this book is so amazing, check out my full review of Vienna Waltz.
For another great investigative duo, Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby historical mystery series is another that I highly recommend. The characters are great and there’s a lovely little romance throughout. Start with book one, The Anatomist’s Wife.