Written by C. S. Harris
Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin and his wife are visiting the Shropshire village of Alewick to bring an unknown woman the gift of a mechanical nightingale purchased by a man who may have been Sebastian’s half brother. A melancholy mission with the goal of finding some clue to the name of the man who was Sebastian’s real father.
On the morning of their arrival in the seemingly quiet village the body of a young gentlewoman is discovered in the water meadow. Suicide or murder? And could her death have anything to do with the presence of Lucien Bonaparte, who, with his entourage, is a houseguest in the nearby great house of Northcott Abbey.
Sebastian’s opinion is sought by the young local squire because after all, who knows better the Viscount that “all is often not as it seems, just so he knew that those who probe the secrets of the past risk hearing truths they might wish they had never known.”
The author is a historian and there always is some fascinating (to me) historical material layered into the story and further explained in the Author’s Notes, in this case her brief discussion of the Enclosure Acts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This led to my buying Barbara Hammond’s book The Village Labourer 1760-1832 for myself, as well as a another copy of When Falcons Fall for a friend who also devours Harris’s books. I knew about the enclosures in northern England and particularly in Scotland, the ones that led to the clearances and the wholesale emigration of Scottish people to North America and Australia, but knew nothing about those further south. (That is a gross over simplification of a complicated subject.) If you are less than interested in English social history don’t let my enthusiasm for the Author’s Notes put you off the book. Ms. Harris cleverly uses the history to inform her characters motives but never lets it overwhelm her exciting well-wrought mystery.
NOTE: A list of the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries will be found on Magpie Recommends.
C. S. Harris
When Falcons Fall (a Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery)
March 1, 2016