My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The mystery might rate higher but the rest was a two for me so I averaged. I have read many of these things (mostly out of order) and there is a definite formula. Have crime, have Eve and Roarke fight and have boring make up sex (in fact there was more sex in this one than usual, none of it that titillating), yap about real coffee, use her child abuse history to justify any and all of her bad behaviors. Points up, this is book #27 in the series and none of this has ever changed.
And I think I put my finger on why this book bugged me. Ignoring the fact that this was written in 2008, I'm reading it in 2020/21 after a horrendous year of police brutality and thinking the laws don't apply to them and Eve does that A LOT in this. Anyone doesn't agree with her, she bites their heads off, taunts them into attacking her to arrest them when she has no evidence and even threatens to hit Peabody. Also this is book 27 and there is NO character development for Eve, zip zero. She still has nightmares etc and that's fine. PTSD has no easy fixes. I can deal with that. It's everything else that bugs me. She treats everyone around her like her servants and she treats them badly. She's verbally abusive toward them. She uses Roarke like a pocketbook slash tech wizard to get around the laws when she doesn't like them.
Eve is a terrible friend. She spends the entire book whining about having to have a bachelorette party at her house. She did the same with Mavis's baby before it was born in other books. Roarke has to do everything. He buys all the gifts etc because she's too busy being annoyed about big things in her friends lives to be bothered. I think it's meant to show her as socially awkward but it seems more like a narcissist who can't be bothered because it isn't about her. These are friends and she can't take the time to get a gift?
She's also cruel to a mother who didn't know her husband was sexually abusing a kid which I can see being a trigger but she's 'that woman is useless because she never left the abuser.' And I'm annoyed at the internalized misogyny. She and Roarke (who was kinder) should realize that the deck is still stacked against women (okay this is the future but at this point it's only what? 40 years from now?) There is no easy answers for escaping abusers and 2020 has shown how women have to give up their job for child care concerns. How many of my students had to drop out of school because child care is unaffordable? It's hard to leave when you can't support yourself. It's hard to leave when many abusers will hunt you down and kill you. Eve has zero sympathy for this and berates Peabody when she points it out.
I'm learning I don't like Eve that much. Sigh. As for the mystery, it started out interesting, a priest murdered with communion wine who turns out not to be a priest. THere was one former gang member turned good in this and for half the book it seems like our victim would be too and that would have been far more interesting than what we got. Still the crime part was good. But other than picking up random books at library sales I don't think I really need to follow a series where in over two dozen books, the main character is exactly as she was in the beginning. For that matter we never even see how she loves Roarke. We're told she does but she never does a damn thing to show it.
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Who Speaks for the Damned by C.S. Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is book 15 and yet somehow the characters remain fresh as ever. I love getting to visit with Sebastian and Hero every time I open one of these books. This series is one of the best historical mysteries out there.
This one had a very interesting premise. Nicholas Hayes, third son of a lord, has been thought dead for years after he was convicted of a murder he may not have committed and transported to Australia. He came back to England knowing he'd be hanged but before anyone could spot him, he was murdered with a sickle in a tea garden and the young Chinese child with him has taken off. Sebastian's valet has ties to this man which brings in Sebastian onto the case (and the child lures in Hero).
The case is convoluted and touches on a lot of things such as the idea that the lower class and criminals are actually born that way, almost a sub human type (something Hero finds horrid and is working to counteract that idea), xenophobia and racial prejudice (Chinese and Indian in this case). It's well researched and well done with no simple answers offered. And Harris doesn't spare the terrible details of what happened to transported criminals, especially the upper class ones.
As the bodies start to fall and Jarvis (as per usual) unhappy that Sebastian is doing this especially as some suspects are peers of the realm or French royals, Sebastian has to work his way through many suspects all of whom had reasons to kill Hayes and he to have killed them which seems like the likeliest reason for his return.
It was a very satisfying mystery and I am eagerly awaiting the next one.
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