It's not every day I find myself doing this: buying extra copies of a book and giving them to friends with entreaties to "read this, you'll love it." Lately I've bought four extra copies of C. S. Harris first book, What Angels Fear, and gifted them to fellow mystery fans. It's my version of doing the Lord's Work.
There are many reasons to read this latest entry in the series: excellent evolving characterizations, a smart central mystery and the sort of edge-of-your-seat action dozens of thrillers promise every year yet so few actually deliver. After four books it's clear that C. S. Harris is qualified to teach a master class on a number of topics. Take her ability to start a thriller out with a bang - just the right amount of set up and then right into the action. Where Serpents Sleep starts with Hero Jarvis in the midst of one of her blue stocking studies having a conversation with a prostitute when all hell breaks loose. It's nothing short of brilliant and the tension never lets up without once seeming forced.
Harris packs in a few twists in both the central mystery and the on-going interactions of the recurring characters. I'm a fan of mystery series though I always get antsy when the recurring characters take up too much of the narrative - call me shallow but I'm in it for the mystery. Harris always strikes just the right balance between delivering the mystery goods and involving the reader in the lives of her recurring characters. (Martha Grimes and Elizabeth George, take note!)
If you love mysteries or thrillers or historical fiction, if you're a fan of Kate Ross or Dorothy Dunnett (or even Georgette Heyer), give C. S. Harris a try. Start at the beginning with What Angels Fear, if you can, but you won't lose too much by starting with this excellent entry. If you still aren't convinced and you have a Kindle, take an advantage of the free sample chapter. What have you got to lose, right? And you can look forward to joining me in all but stopping strangers on the street and urging them to read these books. The Sebastian St. Cyr series is that good - read one book and you may find yourself giving copies to your friends.