Dark Stars by CS Quinn
Genre: historical mystery
I read it as a(n): audiobook
Narrator: Steve West
Her Grace’s rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Set a few weeks after the events of Fire Catcher, this third installation in The Thief Taker series centers around a killer who is leaving mutilated corpses to wash up around the port town of Deptford. The bodies are all marked with astrological signs that indicate a catastrophe will soon descend upon England. Charlie Tuesday teams up with Lily Bosworth to find the person responsible for the murders. In the process, he discovers that he is connected to the killer in ways beyond their shared astrological fate.
OK. So I didn’t care much for this book. I felt that the characters were surprisingly one-dimensional, especially considering that it was the 3rd book in the series. The good guys were very good, the bad guys were very bad. There were a couple others who were a little more shades of grey, but they were secondary characters that didn’t really add anything super important to the plot.
Speaking of adding to the plot – I’m sorry, but everything involving the court was basically irrelevant. What information we did learn from court could easily have been included elsewhere instead, like a rumor or intercepted letter. The side plot with the king’s mistresses and court politics was just kind of boring and didn’t, in my opinion, add anything vital to the overall story. I do not care at all about his primary mistress, Lady Castlemaine, nor the innocent young girl he fixates on later. The entire book could have been written without them in it at all, and if the rest of the court intrigue stuff had to be included, then probably 75% of it could be cut and still have retained what relevance was necessary.
One thing I thought was beyond the realm of the believable was Charlie’s brother, Rowan. He had been in the first book a bit and seemed like a decent guy. He wasn’t in book 2 but the events of each book occur within just a few months of each other. So it was with a great deal of surprise that he turned out to have been groomed from childhood to be some crazed killer. It defies belief that anyone either could have hidden his psychosis for years, or that he could have changed so much in such a short span of time.
I did think the stuff about astrology was interesting, though again it defied belief that Charlie needed help to decipher astrological signs one minute and by the end of the book knew enough to create Rowan’s star chart so precisely on his own. But regardless, it was fun to see how the “dark stars” under which some of the characters were born ended up playing out. I know astrology was a thing for much of the Renaissance but it’s just weird to me that they wouldn’t have thought it was heresy or something.
The narrator, Steve West, did an ok job. I would probably have liked his performance better if there weren’t many times when he was talking quietly and it was really hard to hear him properly. I remember being confused by that since I didn’t recall it being an issue in the first two books but then realised the first two had a different narrator. West did fine, though. I wouldn’t NOT listen to another book that he narrates, but I don’t think he is a narrator that I will seek out and listen to the book just because he narrates it. I will do that if Jason Isaacs narrates, or Bahni Turpin, Ray Porter, or Wil Wheaton. Dear Audible: Please get Jason Isaacs to narrate more books. Take all my money.
In any case, this is the 3rd book of Quinn’s I have read and it will almost certainly be my last. I would have given up on this one except that by the time I started thinking about quitting, I was over half way through so I figured I may as well just finish it and get it over. Which is a shame since I think it had good potential. There were just too many things detracting from it.