Although the subject matter of the book--child abuse and murder--was very grim, the story was gripping. Maybe it was because the subject matter was so grim that it was gripping. It isn't for the fainthearted. I usually avoid gritty literature but I am a St. Cyr junkie. I have read every single of the St. Cyr series in order. In fact, this is the first one where I wish she had written this one AND the next at the same time and released them as the ending of the book leaves several questions still to be answered. A "regular" character dies in the book and although the death isn't given to be mysterious, reading between the lines I think it is and I can't wait to see in the next book if I am right.
I obtained the book the day it was released and finished it four days later in spite of being on a very busy vacation. One of the things that could be annoying about the St. Cyr series is the way that Sebastian goes around and around to different suspects. However, I decided that it is understandable given the century that St. Cyr is operating in. There is no real, organized, police force, no forensic lab, no DNA. And the dialogue between the characters is so well done. I think it fits the period quite well.
For other St. Cyr addicts who haven't yet read the book, this really is one of her best. If you haven't read the St. Cyr series, this isn't the one to begin with. It really is a series that is meant to be read in order.