I very much enjoyed the first book in this series. With full awareness that some of the plotting left something to be desired, and that parts of it weren’t the most original, I really enjoyed it – writing and characters that held the attention and did interesting things.
And When Gods Die followed suit. I hoped, actually, that the plotting might be a bit stronger, but that isn’t really the case, sad to say: it’s a bit all over the place. When the Prince Regent is discovered clutching a very beautiful, very young, very strangely clad, very dead woman in his arms in the Yellow Closet of the Pavilion at Brighton one festive evening, Sebastian St. Cyr, Lord Devlin (alternatively called Sebastian and Devlin, though not iirc St. Cyr), is called in to investigate. I liked the manner of this calling in: you investigated that other thing recently, now the Lord Chamberlain would like you to find out who killed this woman. Sebastian’s response that he only investigated the other matter because his neck was at risk is waved aside – and the insistence that he detect again is reinforced by the revelation that the dead woman was found wearing – in addition to a green dress which came nowhere near fitting her – a necklace that belonged to Sebastian’s mother. Once again it’s a personal matter, and he has no choice.
I still like the characters , but this time out I find myself often becoming frustrated by them. No major spoilers here, I promise, but: it drove me distracted that it took days for anyone to consider the dress that so clearly did not belong to the dead woman. The description of it – as a well-made, expensive garment obviously made specifically for some one woman – immediately told me that Sebastian needed to determine who made it and for what specific woman, and trace how it got to the Pavilion on a dead woman’s body. This did happen, but not for chapters. Keeping in mind that Sebastian is not a professional detective, and that he is no Sherlock Holmes, still I found his modus operandi frustrating. He turns up a piece of information involving X, and hares off to talk to X, who gives him a tidbit concerning Y, and off Sebastian goes to confront Y, who drops Z’s name – and so on. It’s purely reactive. Which I suppose is pretty realistic, but just seems … inept.
One other thing that bothered me inordinately was that necklace. It’s important, for reasons I won’t spoil. But over and over (and over) Sebastian is discovered by the narrator standing staring down at the necklace in his hand. He has very good reasons to be a bit obsessive about it – but for his lover to twice wake up and see him standing naked with his back to her gazing at the necklace in his hand is completely unnecessary déjà vu.
I still think the series is worth pursuing. I just hope that as it continues Sebastian shows improvement at his new job.