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Why kill the innocent [text (large print)] / C. S. Harris.

By: Harris, C. S.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookSeries: Harris, C. S. Sebastian St. Cyr mystery: 13.Publisher: Thorndike, Maine : Center Point Large Print, 2018Edition: Center Point Large Print edition.Description: 454 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781683249153; 1683249151.Subject(s): Nobility -- Fiction | Murder -- Investigation -- Fiction | Fugitives from justice -- Fiction | Large type books | Great Britain -- History -- George III, 1760-1820 -- Fiction | London (England) -- FictionGenre/Form: Regency fiction. | Historical fiction. | Detective and mystery fiction.DDC classification: 813/.54 Summary: "London, 1814. A brutal murder draws nobleman Sebastian St. Cyr into the tangled web of the British royal court where intrigue abounds and betrayal awaits"-- Provided by publisher.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

London, 1814. As a cruel winter holds the city in its icy grip, the bloody body of a beautiful young musician is found half-buried in a snowdrift. Jane Ambrose's ties to Princess Charlotte, the only child of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive to the throne, panic the palace, which moves quickly to shut down any investigation into the death of the talented pianist. But Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his wife, Hero, refuse to allow Jane's murderer to escape justice.

Regular print version previously published by: Berkley.

"London, 1814. A brutal murder draws nobleman Sebastian St. Cyr into the tangled web of the British royal court where intrigue abounds and betrayal awaits"-- Provided by publisher.

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Chapter 1 Clerkenwell, London: Thursday, 27 January 1814 A  howling wind flung icy snow crystals into Hero Devlin's face, stinging her cold cheeks and stealing her breath. She kept her head bowed, her fists clenched in the fine cloth of her merino carriage gown as she struggled to drag its sodden weight through the knee-deep drifts clogging the ancient winding lane. A footman with a lantern staggered ahead of her to light the darkness, for Clerkenwell was a wretched, dangerous area on the outskirts of the City, and night had fallen long ago. She was here, alone except for the footman and a petite French midwife who floundered through the snow in her wake, because of an article she was writing on the hardships faced by the families of men snatched off the streets by the Royal Navy's infamous press gangs. The midwife, Alexi Sauvage, had offered to introduce Hero to the desperate eight-months-pregnant wife of a recently impressed cooper. No one had expected the woman to go into labor just as a fierce snowstorm swept in to render the narrow lanes of the district impassable to a gentlewoman's carriage. Thanks to their presence, mother and child both survived the long, hard birth. But the snow just kept getting deeper. "Do you see it yet?" Alexi called, peering through the whirl of white toward where Hero's carriage awaited them at the base of Shepherds' Lane. Hero brought up a cold-numbed hand to shield her eyes. "It should be j-" She broke off as her foot caught on something half-buried in the snow and she pitched forward to land in a deep drift on quickly outflung hands. She started to push up again, then froze as she realized she was staring at the tousled dark hair of a body that lay facedown beside her. The footman swung about in alarm, the light from his lantern swaying wildly. "My lady!" "Mon Dieu," whispered Alexi, coming to crouch next to her. "It's a woman. Help me turn her, quickly." Together they heaved the stiffening woman onto her back. The winter had been so wretchedly cold, with endless weeks of freezing temperatures and soaring food and coal prices, that more and more of the city's poor were being found dead in the streets. But this was no ragged pauper woman. Her fine black pelisse was lined with fur, and the dusky curls framing her pale face were fashionably cut. Hero stared into those open sightless eyes and had no need to see the bloody gash on the side of the woman's head to know that she was dead. "She must have slipped and hit something," said Hero. "I don't think so." Alexi Sauvage studied the ugly wound with professional interest. As a female, she could be licensed in England to practice only as a midwife. But Alexi had trained as a physician in Italy, where such things were allowed. "She couldn't have died here. A wound like this bleeds profusely-look at all the blood in her hair and on her pelisse. Yet there's hardly any blood in the snow around her." With tender hands, she brushed away the rapidly falling flakes that half obscured the dead woman's face. "I wonder who she is." Hero watched the snow fall away from those still features and felt her chest give an odd lurch. "I know her. She's a musician named Jane Ambrose. She teaches piano to"-she paused as Alexi swung her head to stare at her-"to Princess Charlotte. The Regent's daughter." Chapter 2 S ebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, stood at the river steps below Westminster Bridge, his worried gaze on the turgid ice-filled expanse of the Thames before him. Never in anyone's memory had London seen a winter such as this. Beginning in December and lasting for more than a week, a great killing fog had smothered the city with a darkness so heavy it could be felt. After that came days of endless snow that buried the entire Kingdom beneath vast drifts said in some places to run as much as twenty-three feet deep. And then, yesterday, a brief, sudden thaw sent massive blocks of ice from up the Thames spinning downriver to be carried back and forth by the tide, catching in eddies and against the arches of the bridges, where they crashed into one another with a series of echoing booms that reminded Sebastian of artillery fire. Now, with this evening's plunging temperatures and new snowfall, the city had turned into a strange black-and-white world of bleak windblown drifts cut by a ribbon of darkly dangerous ice-filled waters. And still the snow fell thick and fast around him. He was aware of a strange silence that seemed to press down on the city, unnatural enough to be troubling. Twenty years of war combined with falling wages, soaring prices, and widespread starvation had already brought England to her knees. There was a very real worry that this vicious, killing winter might be more than the country could-or would-bear. He glanced back at the ancient stone walls of the Houses of Parliament, which rose just beyond the bridge. They seemed so strong and invincibly enduring. Yet he knew they were not. "Gov'nor." A familiar shrill cockney voice cut through the icy silence. "Gov'nor!" Sebastian turned to see his sharp-faced young groom, or tiger, slip and almost fall as he took the icy footpath curling down from the bridge. "Tom? What the devil are you doing here?" "I like t' never found ye, yer honor," said Tom, almost falling again as he skidded to a halt. "A message jist come to Brook Street from 'er ladyship." "Yes, I heard she's been delayed in Clerkenwell." "Aye, but this is a second message, yer honor. She's at the Queen's 'Ead near the Green, and she says you'll be wantin' t' come right away. Somebody close to Princess Charlotte's been murdered, and 'er ladyship done tripped over the body jist alyin' there in the street!" o He found Hero beside a roaring fire in the private parlor of a ramshackle old inn at the base of ShepherdsÕ Lane. She stood lost in thought, her hands held out to the blaze. Her wet, rich dark hair lay plastered against her face; the skirts of the elegant black gown she wore in mourning for her dead mother hung limp and sodden. "Devlin. Thank heavens," she said, turning as he entered. "I'm sorry it took so long for your message to find me." She was one of the strongest people he knew, determinedly rational and fiercely brave. But as she came into his arms and he held her close, he felt a faint shudder rack her tall Junoesque frame. "Are you all right?" "Yes." She drew back to give him a lopsided smile, as if vaguely embarrassed by that brief display of vulnerability. "Although more shaken than I'd care to admit." "Anyone would be shaken." "Not Alexi. She's gone off to treat the cook's frostbite." Sebastian grunted. He wasn't sure anything could shock that enigmatic fiery-haired Frenchwoman. But all he said was "Tell me what happened." He drew her back to the fire's warmth while she provided him with a crisp, calm summary. "A couple of the parish constables are guarding the body," she said. "But I made certain they sent word directly to Sir Henry at Bow Street rather than to the public office here at Hatton Garden." "That was wise," said Sebastian. Violent deaths connected in any way with the royal family had a tendency to present the officials involved with a Faustian dilemma. And the magistrates of Hatton Garden had in the past proven themselves to be far from reliable. "Does anyone else know yet?" "Not to my knowledge." Sebastian nodded, his gaze meeting hers. There was no need to give voice to what both were thinking. "Good." o Sir Henry Lovejoy arrived in Clerkenwell not long after Sebastian. The Bow Street magistrate was a small man, barely five feet tall, with stern religious views, a serious demeanor, and unshakable integrity. There'd been a time not so long ago when Sebastian had been a fugitive on the run for murder and Sir Henry the magistrate tasked with tracking him down. But in the years since then an unusual friendship had developed between the Earl's son and the dour middle-aged magistrate. As different as the two men were, they shared a fierce dedication to the pursuit of justice. Huddled now in a heavy greatcoat with a scarf covering his lower face, Sir Henry stood outside the Queen's Head in quiet consultation with his constables while Sebastian handed Hero up into her carriage. Sebastian was watching the coachman pull away to carefully guide his team down the snowy street when Sir Henry came up beside him. "Her ladyship is certain of the victim's identity?" said the magistrate, his eyes narrowing as the carriage's rear wheels slid sideways on the icy cobbles. Sebastian nodded. "I'm afraid so." "Not a good situation." "No," agreed Sebastian. The carriage swung around a distant corner, and the two men turned to wade through the deep drifts clogging Shepherds' Lane. The snow still fell thick and fast around them. Two parish constables stood guard over a dark, silent form rapidly disappearing beneath the falling snow. The men had been stomping their feet and swinging their arms in an effort to stay warm, but at the Bow Street magistrate's approach, both went rigid. "At ease, men," said Sir Henry. "Aye, yer honor," said one of the constables, although he still didn't move. Crouching down beside Jane Ambrose's body, Sebastian yanked off his glove and used his bare hand to brush gently at the snow that had already re-covered the dead woman's lifeless skin and dark blue lips. She'd been a poignantly attractive woman, he thought, his hand curling into a fist as he rested his forearm on his bent knee; she was probably somewhere in her early thirties, with thick dark hair, wide cheekbones, and a heart-shaped face. The side of her head was a pulpy mess. Lovejoy thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his greatcoat and looked away. "Did you know her, as well?" Sebastian pulled on his glove again, his gaze returning to that still, pale face. "Only by reputation." She'd been born Jane Somerset, the daughter of the organist at Westminster Abbey. As child prodigies, she and her twin, James, had given numerous musical performances to great acclaim. But modesty required females of her class to retire from public view once they reached marriageable age. And so, while her brother James Somerset had gone on to be acknowledged as a promising young composer and one of the greatest pianists of their age, Jane had ceased to perform, married a successful dramatist named Edward Ambrose, and confined herself to such socially acceptable "feminine" pursuits as writing glees and ballads and teaching piano to the children of the wealthy. Premier amongst those students was Princess Charlotte, ebullient young daughter of the Regent and heiress presumptive to the throne behind her father. Sebastian found himself considering Jane Ambrose's ties to the House of Hanover as he studied the pink-tinged snow around the dead woman's head. Alexi Sauvage was right: If Jane Ambrose had been killed here in Shepherds' Lane, the snow would have been drenched crimson with her blood. It was not. "I wonder why she was left here, of all places," he said aloud. Lovejoy hunched his shoulders against an icy gust. "Unfortunately, the wind and snow have covered any tracks her killer might have left. I suppose it's possible she was attacked somewhere near here by footpads who were then interrupted in the process of dragging the body to a less public locale." Sebastian touched the bloodstained fur-trimmed collar of Jane Ambrose's pelisse where a gold locket still hung around the dead woman's neck. "No footpad would leave that." Lovejoy cast a quick glance around, then crouched on the far side of the body and pitched his voice low enough to be inaudible to the constables holding back the crowds that were beginning to gather despite the freezing temperature and wind-driven snow. "And yet I fear the palace is likely to insist on saying some such thing is what happened. If we're to get a postmortem, we'd best move quickly." Sebastian met the magistrate's gaze and nodded. Pushing to his feet, Lovejoy sent one of his men running to the nearest deadhouse for a shell that could be used to transport the body to the surgery of Paul Gibson, an anatomist known for his ability to read the evidence left by violent death. It was when they were lifting what was left of Jane Ambrose onto the shell that Sebastian noticed the dead woman's hands, which until then had lain hidden beneath the folds of her pelisse. They were bare. "She's not wearing gloves," said Sebastian. "Or a hat, for that matter." Lovejoy came to stand beside him. "How very odd." Even in the best of weather, no gentlewoman would think of appearing in public without a hat and gloves. And in this weather, it would be madness. "I'll set the lads to beating the snowdrifts to look for them. Perhaps they're lying somewhere hereabouts." "Perhaps," said Sebastian. "But it would still be odd." Chapter 3 W hile a solemn-faced Lovejoy set off to personally notify Edward Ambrose of his wife's death, Sebastian spent the better part of the next hour scouting the surrounding area and knocking on the doors of the ancient dilapidated houses that lined the crooked lane. He was hoping to find someone who'd seen or at least heard something. But the bitter cold and heavy snowfall had long ago driven the area's residents to their firesides; no one would admit to knowing anything. Giving up, he stood for a moment and watched Lovejoy's constables, their lanterns shuttered against the driving snow as they continued to flounder about in the deep drifts looking for Jane Ambrose's missing hat and gloves or anything else that might help explain what had happened to her. The snow muffled their movements the same way it silenced the usual racket of the vast, freezing city around them. And it struck Sebastian that, so intense was the unnatural hush, they might have been in a snowy forest glen surrounded only by the unseen creatures of the night. Readjusting his hat against the snow, he shook off the peculiar thought and turned his steps toward the Tower Hill surgery of a certain one-legged, opium-eating Irishman. o SebastianÕs friendship with the Irish surgeon Paul Gibson stretched back nearly ten years, to a time when both men wore the KingÕs colors and fought the KingÕs wars from Italy and the West Indies to the mountains of Portugal. Then a French cannonball shattered GibsonÕs lower left leg, leaving him racked with phantom pains and struggling with a dangerous opium addiction. That was when he had come here, to London, to teach anatomy at hospitals such as St. ThomasÕs and St. BartholomewÕs and to open a small surgery in the shadow of the Tower. Excerpted from Why Kill the Innocent by C. S. Harris All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

In his 13th investigation (after Where the Dead Lie), Sebastian St. Cyr and his wife, Hero, work to expose the seamy underbelly of Regency London in a case that begins on the frozen streets of down-at-heels -Clerkenwell but reaches all the way up to the halls of power. When Hero discovers the body of Jane Ambrose, it is obvious that she did not die of the killing cold; it is also apparent that the Palace will want to hush up the death of the crown princess's piano teacher. When St. Cyr refuses to let the case rest, he must sort through conflicting motives, from an unfaithful husband to power brokers who feared she knew too many secrets. His dogged determination eventually finds an answer close to home. The characters of St. Cyr and Hero defy societal expectations in ways that seem plausible for their time while speaking strongly to contemporary readers. St. Cyr is haunted by PTSD and a search for his own shadowed identity, while Hero proves to be his equal partner at every turn. The mystery highlights the circumscribed course of women's lives of the Regency era while exposing the rot that underlies the period's glitter. VERDICT Highly recommended for lovers of historical thrillers. [See Prepub Alert, 11/15/17.]- Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, LLC, Duluth, GA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Harris's fascinating 13th mystery set in Regency-era London (after 2017's Where the Dead Lie) centers on the plight of Princess Charlotte, heiress presumptive to the throne, who's being encouraged to marry William, Prince of Orange, a union designed to benefit her father's political agenda. Hero Devlin, Sebastian St. Cyr's wife, and midwife Alexi Sauvage are hurrying home from helping with the delivery of an infant when they literally stumble on the body of a young woman, whom Hero recognizes as Jane Ambrose, Princess Charlotte's piano teacher. An examination of the corpse indicates that Jane was killed elsewhere and dumped in the street. Soon Sebastian and Hero are investigating the death, in spite of aggressive efforts on the part of the palace to label it as accidental and so shield Princess Charlotte from any hint of scandal. Or is there a more sinister reason for their actions? Harris ably weaves real events into a satisfying mystery that's chock-full of engrossing historical tidbits. Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In the thirteenth Sebastian St. Cyr mystery, after Where the Dead Lie (2017), Sebastian's wife, Hero, literally trips over a frozen corpse in an unsavory part of London during a blizzard. Jane Ambrose was a brilliant musician with a tragic personal life and a connection to Princess Charlotte. While the city builds a Frost Fair on the frozen Thames, Hero and Sebastian pursue separate lines of inquiry. Sebastian strong-arms answers from Jane's husband and other unsavories. Hero navigates court intrigue and her network of underappreciated, brilliant women. Both are thwarted by Hero's father, the Machiavellian Lord Jarvis, who will do anything to keep scandal away from his cousin, the prince regent. Those who have watched Sebastian and Hero go from adversaries to true partners will relish the pair's commitment to working together to find justice. Harris, as always, manages to weave political and military issues of the day and a sense of moral outrage on behalf of those society leaves behind, especially, poor women. Also provided is a crash course on the cruelties and whims of the regent's family life, which adds another layer to the unfortunate puzzle of Jane Ambrose. The best St. Cyr yet.--Maguire, Susan Copyright 2018 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

The famous London Frost Fair of 1814, which took place on the frozen River Thames, provides the chilling backdrop to a death caused by a woman's desire to cast off the shackles of her unhappy life.On a bitterly cold and snowy day, Hero Devlin, a reformer who often visits some of London's most squalid areas, stumbles over the body of Jane Ambrose, piano teacher to Princess Charlotte, the prince regent's daughter. Hero sends for her husband, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, knowing that the death of someone close to the princess will be made to look like an accidentwhich it might indeed have been if the body had not been moved from another place. Hero and Devlin, no strangers to mystery (Where the Dead Lie, 2017, etc.), resolve to find the truth even though it will be both difficult and dangerous. Hero's father, Charles, Lord Jarvis, the regent's cousin and hatchet man, will do nothing to help her. The peevish, petulant regent, hated by most of the populace, is intent on divorcing his wife and keeping his daughter isolated from society because she's more popular than he is. The couple's sleuthing turns up all too many possible killers, ranging from Jane's husband to Nathan Rothschild, and motives, from jealousy to dangerous secrets. Jane's twin brother received the acclaim his more talented sister deserved. She was also denied credit for writing her husband's popular operas and was often mistreated by him. And a hurried autopsy shows that she had been raped in the days before her death. Hero and Devlin use all their connections high and low to turn up clues as they crisscross the frozen city.Harris does a fine job of exploring the striking inequality and political intrigue of the Regency period in a mystery packed with historical detail and myriad motives. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.