What Angels Fear, by C.S. Harris
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
The world was full of ugliness, Sebastian knew that; ugliness, and ugly people. But you couldn’t let them win, those men who took what they wanted with never a thought or care for the ones who suffered and died as a result. You could never stop fighting them, never let them think that what they did was right or somehow justified. Never let them triumph unchallenged.
This book is completely outside of my comfort zone. I hardly stray from the YA department – because, of course, it’s the one that’s aimed at my age group – and I tend to cling to fantasy and contemporary. So an Adult historical mystery? Not on my radar. At all.
But I’ve been telling myself, over and over again, that I need to branch out more. Because I’m a closeted history geek with a pull towards English history, I knew that’s where I had to start. I pulled What Angels Fear out from the library shelves and saw that it was also a mystery.
That threw me a little. I love mysteries, but I’m not good with them. I’m extremely impatient and when it comes to books, I love a lot of action. Mysteries are a lot of talking and scheming and not much else, and it drives me nuts. I decided to give it a chance anyway, and I’m glad I did.
This is a fantastic book. I pushed myself past the beginning, which I knew would be slow because mysteries are slow, and it proved worthwhile. It all starts with the death of a young actress named Rachel York, who was raped and savagely murdered in a church in Westminster. The flintlock pistol found at the crime scene points fingers at Sebastian St. Cyr, the Viscount Devlin, and after an accident during his arrest that leaves a constable fatally wounded, Sebastian flees for his life and sets out to find who really killed Rachel York.
What he uncovers is a scandal so shocking, so massive, that it’s hard to believe it was all revealed from the death of one 18-year-old woman. Its roots dig deep into the country of England, who is currently at war with the French, and exposes political motives that will change their country forever.
This book shows England’s uglier side. During this period, England was an empire that towered above the rest. Many Englishmen and women looked down on foreigners, and though they were against slavery in America, they used their own children as slaves, making them hypocrites. Plus, the constables of Queen Square are horrible detectives. Horrible. It’s amazing, really: they moved the body, they didn’t do an autopsy, they assumed time of death, they trampled all over the crime scene, and they could think of no other possible reason for Sebastian’s motive besides, “he just did it.” They also don’t mind falsely condemning a man for a crime just to get it out of the way.
It’s these things that lead Sebastian to open up an investigation of his own, instead of running.
I love Sebastian. While many dismiss Rachel York’s murder because she was, let’s say promiscuous, Sebastian grows from wanting to clear his name to wanting to bring her justice. He can be loving and caring, but also cold and vicious when he needs to intimidate someone. Because he has Bithil Syndrome – which heightens his eyesight and hearing, while also giving him cat-like reflexes – and also due to his experience in the war, he is a very, very deadly man.
This was a wonderful read and also a breath of fresh air. This might just open up a new favorite genre for me.