The Power of Books

Too often I forget the power of books, the power of a good story to comfort, inform and transform. I also forget how wonderful it is to find a book that is even better than I hoped it would be. Pictures at a Revolution was better than I expected. What Angels Fear by C. S. Harris knocked me back on my heels. That Harris managed to entertain me during an emotionally grueling flight from London to NYC is even more amazing.

I knew by the second chapter, when Harris introduces her hero Sebastian St. Cyr, that this was a great book. (The first chapter was a bit "meh" with the fog, the soon to be murdered damsel.) Though the comparisons to Kate Ross's Julian Kestrel are obvious - Regency era nob with a knack for solving murders - I'm more reminded of Dorothy Dunnett's Francis Lymond. Sebastian St. Cyr seems every bit as screwed up as Francis Lymond of Crawford and his parentage looks to be easily as fuzzy. (I do hope that Harris doesn't have plans to go all mystic the way Dunnett did towards the end of her Lymond series - I still can't figure out what the hell the point was of the astrologist who wanted to start her own master race.)

Harris kept the story involving, the pace cracking and the characters interesting. I've already broken my rule about not reading two books in a series back to back simply because Harris is so good. If she can keep the mysteries compelling and not fall into the series trap of making her books too much about the detective and not enough about the crime (yes, that means you Elizabeth George and Martha Grimes) then I'm already looking forward to her 25th Sebastian St Cyr mystery.

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