As with the other two books of the series, the plotting here is slightly all over the place. Once again Sebastian, Lord Devlin, is called in to involve himself in a murder. Two, in fact, as the horrifically mutilated body just discovered is the second such in a few months. He looks into the matter, trying to determine why two (or more) such dissimilar boys have been murdered in such a similar manner, all the while continuing to keep an eye on the matter of his mother which came up in the previous book. In his personal life, he continues to try to convince or coerce or cozen his mistress into marrying him, while she continues to keep a secret from him which she believes will change his feelings for her forever. Peripheral to the pursuit of the investigation, a piece of information comes out that turns Sebastian’s own life and world inside out: it’s a complete game-changer.
The detecting seems a bit more inspired in this book: Sebastian makes an intuitive leap that is helpful in determining what ties the murders together. He still physically chases after clues from place A to B to C to D, but either C.S. Harris is learning better how to put a mystery together or Sebastian is learning better how to unravel one. It would be a really wonderful thing if it was the latter, and done on purpose.
I still enjoyed the characters, and enjoyed the plot enough to blink at the flaws – like, for example, the – to me -shaky connection between the murders and between the connection and the murderer. There are aspects of the story and some of the characters I wish had been explored more deeply: Sebastian’s extraordinary senses and how they mark him; Kat’s world and her ability to assist in detection; Sebastian’s tiger Tom’s past and its impact on his present. All in all, though, it is a dependably enjoyable series, as long as I’m willing to cut it a fair amount of slack.