What the Devil Knows by C.S. Harris

April 30th, 2021 Kimberly Guest Post, Review 15 Comments

30th Apr

Please welcome Sophia Rose to the blog with a review of the historical mystery What the Devil Knows by C.S. Harris. Grab a cuppa and see why this story gave her the chills.

What the Devil Knows by C.S. Harris
What the Devil Knows
by C.S. Harris
Series: Sebastian St. Cyr #16
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Sebastian St. Cyr thought a notorious serial killer had been brought to justice until a shocking series of gruesome new murders stuns the city in this thrilling historical mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Who Speaks for the Damned.

It's October 1814. The war with France is finally over and Europe's diplomats are convening in Vienna for a conference that will put their world back together. With peace finally at hand, London suddenly finds itself in the grip of a series of heinous murders eerily similar to the Ratcliffe Highway murders of three years before.

In 1811, two entire families were viciously murdered in their homes. A suspect--a young seaman named John Williams--was arrested. But before he could be brought to trial, Williams hanged himself in his cell. The murders ceased, and London slowly began to breathe easier. But when the lead investigator, Sir Edwin Pym, is killed in the same brutal way three years later and others possibly connected to the original case meet violent ends, the city is paralyzed with terror once more.

Was the wrong man arrested for the murders? Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy turns to his friend Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, for assistance. Pym's colleagues are convinced his manner of death is a coincidence, but Sebastian has his doubts. The more he looks into the three-year-old murders, the more certain he becomes that the hapless John Williams was not the real killer. Which begs the question--who was and why are they dead set on killing again?

Sophia Rose’s Review

Slipping down foggy, damp, and dark gritty streets in Regency London’s East End while tracking the bloody clues of a horrific murderer along with aristocrat turned detective, Sebastian St. Cyr, is one of the most riveting, engaging experiences in my year.  Not simply historical mystery, but some of the best the genre has produced.

What the Devil Knows is the sixteenth in a long-standing closely connected series of books.  The mysteries are mostly standalone, but the ongoing character and relationship developments let alone the unfolding of historical events makes it well worth reading in order.

On a chilling, dark foggy night a gruesome murder is committed and Sir Henry Lovejoy one of Bow Street’s magistrates asks Sebastian for his aid.  The victim is no prize as a dirty, greedy man using his power as a magistrate of his own parish to rake in gain from the poorest London residents in the East End.  The bashing of the head by a heavy tool and the slit throat are eerily reminiscent of the murder of a couple local families three years before.  One man was taken for those crimes on flimsy evidence, but Sebastian strongly suspects that several someones got it wrong and the real culprit is back.

When following along with a Sebastian St. Cyr mystery, one gets far more than a murder.  CS Harris layers in social justice issues that both Sebastian and his unconventional wife, Hero, fight for in their own gifted ways, family dynamics, family secrets, an eclectic circle that Sebastian can go to for aid in solving the cases, and, of course the motley cast of witnesses and suspects from all strata of life who people the author’s books.

In this latest installment, Sebastian is still finding no luck hunting down his elusive mother for answers about his true birth father while Hero is faced with the prospect of seeing her own father remarrying a woman as ruthless and cunning as he is.  Hero is still conducting her interviews and writing up her articles to make the upper classes more aware of the living and working conditions of the poor while doing what she can to make a difference.  Sebastian worries more and more about his dead half-brother’s young son when the mother takes up with a rough sailor who detests the boy.

And, at the heart of the story is government turning a blind eye to big corporate greed that the ‘voiceless’ poor working classes are forced to endure without justice or compassion.  Sounds familiar, right?  My heart broke for the untenable situation of the pub and innkeepers who were forced into contracts to sell only certain large company beer and pay protection money to their local magistrates or risk losing their liquor licenses and their very lives.  Under this atmosphere, Sebastian had more than enough enemies of the murdered man and others to investigate.   

The mystery was twisting and had more than a few possibilities. Was it the old killer now back? A copycat? Were the killings merely staged to appear like there was a connection with a different motive? And everywhere Sebastian went, he merely added suspects rather than cleared them. I could only follow along until the reveal.

In summary, it was another emotional stunner that hit to the heart of matters, so the mystery was only one of the superb elements. Authentic historical backdrop, social history, complex characters, and a cunning mystery all in one. Definitely recommend.

Amazon | Audible

What the Devil Knows by C.S. Harris was an emotional stunner that hit the heart of matters, so the mystery was only one of the superb elements. #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #SophiaRose Click To Tweet

About C.S. Harris

C.S. Harris

Candice Proctor, aka C.S. Harris and C.S. Graham, is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than a dozen novels including the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series written under the name C.S. Harris, the new C.S. Graham thriller series co-written with Steven Harris, and seven historical romances. She is also the author of a nonfiction historical study of the French Revolution. The daughter of a career Air Force officer and university professor, Proctor loves to travel and has spent much of her life abroad. She has lived in Spain, Greece, England, France, Jordan, and Australia. She now makes her home in New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, retired Army officer Steve Harris, her two daughters, and an ever-expanding number of cats.

caffeinated coffee cup divider

Stay Caffeinated!

Never miss a post by adding Caffeinated to your Inbox

About Sophia Rose

Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

15 Responses to “What the Devil Knows by C.S. Harris”

  1. Robin

    Beautifully written review! I adore this series—just bought the latest—and you did it justice. Thank you!

  2. Debbie Haupt

    Ok I just keep saying wowowowowowowowow. Why have I not heard of this series? i must have been asleep each time one was reviewed. I am definitely looking into this

  3. Katherine

    I’m so glad to see you enjoyed this! I love this series and really enjoyed this one. Harris does such a good job with weaving some really dark elements into her mysteries.

  4. Lorna

    Okay so this sounds amazing. I just don’t think I have it in me to go back to book one. So many ongoing series, so little time. Ha! I’m reading another series you recommended recently and finished book 1 yesterday. Can’t even remember the name right now. Fantastic review Sophia!

    • Sophia Rose

      LOL, yeah, it’s intimidating to face a series that is already in double digits. Maybe some day, Lorna.
      How cool that you’re trying a different one I’ve recommended. Hope it turns out worth it for you. 🙂

  5. Mary Kirkland

    When I first spotted that cover my mind went right to Jack the Ripper for some reason. So to find out it’s about a serial killer was so cool. It sure sounds good.

    Mary Kirkland recently posted: Freebie Friday!
    • Sophia Rose

      You’re right! It has those vibes. Whoever does the covers for this series really matched the atmosphere of story to their cover.

  6. Jen

    I need to move the Sebastian St. Cyr series up on my list. Every time I see a review I want to listen!

  7. Nadene

    I have heard about this series before now. Your review ie tempting me to add the series to my wishlist.