Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Challenges: NetGalley and Edelweiss ARCs
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Blurb from goodreads:
A Murder of Mages marks the debut of Marshall Ryan Maresca’s novels of The Maradaine Constabulary, his second series set amid the bustling streets and crime-ridden districts of the exotic city called Maradaine. A Murder of Mages introduces us to this spellbinding port city as seen through the eyes of the people who strive to maintain law and order, the hardworking men and women of the Maradaine Constabulary.
Satrine Rainey—former street rat, ex-spy, mother of two, and wife to a Constabulary Inspector who lies on the edge of death, injured in the line of duty—has been forced to fake her way into the post of Constabulary Inspector to support her family.
Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage—almost a crime in itself. Nicknamed “the jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox has been partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with either of them.
Their first case together—the ritual murder of a Circled mage— sends Satrine back to the streets she grew up on and brings Minox face-to-face with mage politics he’s desperate to avoid. As the body count rises, Satrine and Minox must race to catch the killer before their own secrets are exposed and they, too, become targets.
I love murder mysteries and when it's combined with a fantasy world, I'm in heaven. "A Murder of Mages" is a police procedural with a lead character, Minox, who reminded me strongly of Sherlock Holmes; amazingly observant and a firm believer in reason, deduction, and investigation. He also seemed to have some autistic tendencies, such as a difficulty reading people's emotions and obsessing on certain topics. While that can make him difficult to get along with, his obsessions, at least, work to his benefit as an investigator. But he has a reputation as a jinx as his previous partners had a tendency to get hurt.
His new partner, Satrine, is desperate. Her husband, also a member of the constabulary, was injured and is in a vegetative state. They have two school-age daughters and no income. If her husband had died, she'd receive funds but there's nothing for disability. So she lies her way into a job as an investigator and becomes Minox's new partner. It's rare for a woman to be on the force so reactions are mixed when she's hired. She has a background that give her useful skills in her new job and to Minox's surprise, Satrine is actually quite good at the job.
Maresca creates a fascinating world. It's not set on Earth but has a similar feel. The city is a lot like London in the 18th or 19th centuries but with differences of course. Parts of the world were well thought and developed while there are gaps in some areas. Presumably, those holes will be filled in as the series goes along. The mystery was well done, though I do think the author could have given us a few more clues as the solution, and the villain, seemed to come out of nowhere. The lead characters, Minox and Satrine, are fleshed out but will lots of room for revelations and growth. The mage politics and magic system were fascinating and I want to know more. The story didn't grab me right away but it didn't take long before I was pulled in; I read the book in one afternoon. I'm looking forward to the next one. :)