When Falcons Fall is eleventh book in the Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series by C.S. Harris. St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin is married to Hero, the daughter of his nemesis, Jarvis, and a new father. Hero and Devlin have come to the small village of Ayleswick to deliver a gift and to do a bit of research into the mysteries of his past, a clue to who his real father may have been.

Of course, Devlin cannot go anywhere without a murder happening in the vicinity and murder is what opens When Falcons Fall. A young woman, Emma Chance, has been murdered with an attempt to make it look like suicide. The new squire suspects foul play though he’s not sure why so he calls on Devlin for help.

Devlin and Hero’s investigation soon discovers there is much more to Emma Chance than originally suspected. There’s also much more to the village including the presence of Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother. With the war going on, there is the potential for intrigue. There are also so many suspicious accidents and suicides. Perhaps they are all connected somehow?

St. Cyr fans will probably enjoy When Falcons Fall and for mystery fans unfamiliar with the series, there is just enough back story provided when necessary without long explanations to drag the plot down. You don’t need to know the history to appreciate the mystery. Of course, having read the previous ten books in the series makes this a richer experience as a series fan will also be interested in the subplot of learning more about St. Cyr’s real father.

3pawsThis is a good addition to an excellent series that I have followed for years. If you like historical mysteries, Harris is scrupulous with research and verisimilitude. Every once in a while, I get the impression she learned something that she has just got to work into the book no matter what. To cite an example, she used the archaic legal term felo de se for suicide.

It was put in the mouth of a sanctimonious prig the first time, so that made sense. Feel de se emphasizes the illegality of suicide, it’s a crime against the self. But attitudes toward suicide began to change about a hundred years earlier so the word was falling out of use, but an awful grudge-holding person might use such an out of date, condemnatory word. So, in that case, it made sense to use the word to reveal how awful the person who used it was. However, it was used a few more times in the narrative by people not sanctimonious prigs. There it felt wrong.

The mystery is fair. The information you need to reach the same conclusion as St. Cyr and Hero  is there, however there is plenty of misdirection to lead you astray. Everything you want from a good mystery.

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