Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Old Yellow Eyes is back. Well, this is Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, whom we first met in What Angels Fear, and not Lt. Data, but I still demand that Brent Spiner play the guy in the inevitable film adaptation.

In When Gods Die, Devlin, he of the startling yellow eyes that give him supernaturally awesome night vision (note: my grandmother had yellow eyes, truly yellow, like a freaking tub of fresh butter yellow, and her night vision was crap, but hey) and the, I dunno, Spock ears that give him super hearing as well, has landed in the middle of another murder mystery, involving another famously luscious young beauty, but this time he's not the prime suspect. Oh no.

The prime suspect this time is the about-to-become Prince Regent of England, George Hanover, son of the mad George III, who has a certain way with the ladies despite being a fat, flatulent git, as Blackadder would tell you:

Am I really going to throw in a Blackadder the Third clip every time I read a Regency novel? Yes, yes, I probably am.

Someone passed George a note at a musical evening in Brighton. Supposedly, one Guinevere, Lady Anglessey, a buxom black-haired bombshell he's had his eye on for a while. Only when he arrives at the secret rendezvous, she is half out of her dress, provocatively posed, and, as "Prinny" realizes after he wakes up from either a drunken stupor or a drugged one, dead as disco with a jeweled dagger sticking out of her back.* Yeah, it's that classic murder mystery chestnut, the (presumably) innocent dude who wakes up next to a dead hooker, except, you know, these are aristocrats so it's not quite so sordid. Or is it?

Devlin of the Yellow Eyes**, who is of course also in Brighton with the rest of the Quality, is immediately drawn into the effort to cover it up find someone else to blame it on solve the case. A case which winds up involving everything from latter-day Jacobites hoping to re-enact the Gunpowder Plot (but without the fail, thank you very much) to a strange heirloom necklace once given by a Welsh witch to a certain James Stuart (aka James II) and a century or so later passed on to Devlin's mother, who supposedly drowned wearing it when Devlin was eleven but suddenly this very same necklace turns up around the neck of the corpse of Lady Anglessey????

It's all a perplexing and intricate mystery, and a very satisfying one.

Overall, then, When Gods Die is a pretty brisk and romantic and adventurous fun once again, though if I have real complaints they would be 1) Too many sexytimes with Devlin and Kat Boleyn, his actress-lover who can't marry him because of REASONS OKAY and 2) Too little Lovejoy and Tom. But perhaps these will be redressed in future novels in the series?

One continues to hope...

*And yeah, trigger warning again. Not quite as much violence against women this time around but it's still a bit rough. Ditto the outrageous sexism Harris is hell-bent on presenting in all its In the Company of Men caliber nastiness. This is leavened by passages that explain why the upper class sexist assholes that keep seizing center stage are dead wrong, but still, prepare to spend a good bit of your time being kind of outraged. But that's historical fiction, the genre that really seems to be all about how much it has sucked to be a woman throughout history. Sigh.

**Seriously. We are reminded of his eye color every few pages, it seems like. At least once a chapter. But since all the chapters are at most six pages long (always ending with a drama button), yeah, every few pages.

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