Why Mermaids Sing: Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries 3

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pages: 352
Year Published:

In London, a series of strange murders have everyone concerned. Someone is killing young sons of noblemen and mutilating the corpses in a manner that would suggest the killer is sending someone a message. Sir Henry Lovejoy grows increasingly concerned and begs the help of Viscount Devlin once again.

Short Thought:
The novel that has it all--a brilliant mystery, powerful and complex characters, a historical backdrop, and a complicated romance.

Expanded Thoughts:
Okay, I admit it. My name is Jenn and I am now a Sebastian-aholic. This series has me hooked. So let's just dive right in this review of the book that gave me my most potent literary drug.

This novel is a huge turning point in this series. The previous novels have all eluded to Sebastian's dark and troubled nature, and this novel truly brings the entire darkness. He finds himself bombarded with political scandal, deep family secrets, treason against the crown, and another unsavory dealings that span for decades in this novel. For a man that has no love for society and its curious happenings, he still finds himself broken down and closer to the dark place in which he lived during the war.

The characters are well developed and some of the best I have come across, but the true star of this book was the mystery plot. Now, don't get me wrong, the other novels in this series had great mystery plots too, but this one took my breath away. It was the first novel in a long time that for which I threw away precious sleep. (I love sleep!) Yep, I didn't sleep the whole night, but somehow I wasn't tired one bit. (Just twitching for the next novel.)


Here's the gist of the mystery: Bodies of young men are being left during the night in public parks. These young men are being killed and left in mutilated states. Sir Henry Lovejoy picks up one of the murders but is stumped at trying to develop a victimology. The victims don't fit any pattern--class, appearance, or even location of residence. The only thing that they have in common is the killer, whoever they are. Their bodies were also found with curious items stuffed in their mouths--a star cut-out, a mandrake root, and a goat's foot. Lovejoy, knowing that Sebastian can't turn away from exacting justice, persuades him to become involved. It is then that Sebastian realizes that the murderer is following an old Donne poem:

"'Go and Catch a Falling Star
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.'"

Even more important, Sebastian discovers that the killer isn't picking his victims at random as a crazed serial killer would. He is killing certain men's sons and doing it for revenge. As he races to find the common link between the victims to prevent the next murder, he begins to uncover an older and unspeakable crime that several men have kept covered for many years. The closer he gets to uncovering the old and unspeakable crime of the fathers, the more dangerous the situation becomes.

One of the most pronounced themes of this novel was FAMILY. Society suggests that family should be number one in a man's life, but as this novel clearly shows that many times those of the upper class put their name and image first. First, the fathers of the victims are willing to sacrifice their sons in order to keep their secret quiet. They won't help with the investigation. They actually try to have Sebastian killed for prying. Next, we have the case of Earl of Hendon, Sebastian's father. He is the classic case. Years ago he paid Kat to leave Sebastian which devastated him. Next, he lied to Sebastian about his mother. For years he believed that his mother was dead, but in fact Hendon has been paying her a stipend to stay away. Then the final blows comes yet again in regard to Kat. Hendon's past indiscretions have managed to tear apart his son's life completely. And it was done to protect the family name.

Let me just go off on a tangent for a moment: What a twist when Kat's past connection is revealed?! For two books, we have witnessed this loving couple be reunited and fall in love yet again. We've also seen how their love for one another never allows them be anything more than just lovers behind the scenes. When Kat's treason to the Crown is discovered by Jarvis, it seems that Sebastian has that final push to make Kat his wife. All begins falling into place, but then quickly shatters. Sebastian matrimonial announcement in the newspaper caught the attention of one of Kat's estranged relatives. Her aunt comes to visit her with news that would sever her relationship with Devlin forever. (You didn't think I was going to give it all away, did ya?)

{End of Spoilers}

As I said before, (me)+(this book)=(love, devotion, and obsession)

Seriously, if you are a fan of mysteries, adventures, or most any other genre. This series should be on your reading queue.

Additional Notes:
This contains scenes of violence and dark themes.

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