M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Do You Want a Dash of Humor with Your Murders? -- Review of A Murder of Mages

Book blurbs are wonderful things, especially when written tongue in cheek. On my way to the bookstore coffee shop, I picked up a book with a catchy cover and flipped to see what the book was about.  I'm glad the pun of a title didn't stop me.

   The Book? Marshall Ryan Maresco's new fantasy mystery series start, A Murder of Mages, featuring two mismatched detectives. The idea of two non-conformist detectives intrigued me, even without the added element of magic.

   A capsulation of the premise: Satrine Rainey, whose detective husband was disabled on duty, bamboozles her way into a position as an "inspector" in a skid row precinct to support her family and keep her girls in school. She's assigned to partner an idiosyncratic detective, Minox Welling, who no one wants to work with because he's an independent mage...and strange. He sees dangling ends to cases the constabulary thinks are solved. From there, murder and more breaks loose. Not only do the pair land feet first in the core mystery of the novel, the murder of mages, but Rainey must prove her worth by solving, first, one of Welling's "cold cases" and, then, by solving the central mystery.

   A Murder of Mages is definitely not a cut and dried police procedural--all tied up with the details of solving one particularly heinous murder. Clues and hints of other murders sneak into process of solving the ritual killing of a mage and are solved along the way. I really have no experience knowing how a police department works, but I've always thought the TV depictions TV simplistic. A Murder of Mages feels sloppy, just like real life.

   This cross genre read combines solving crimes set in a fantasy world with engaging characters. While magic exists, it's more of a complication than a solution. What's more, Maresco embeds the working of magic in a "normal" work-a-day world. Part of this is accomplished by the way he fleshes out the secondary characters the two detectives work with. Rainey and Welling don't run away with the bit in their mouths. They are in constant contact with their co-workers and rely on their efforts to help find their solutions. The importance of department comradely makes a nice sub-theme in the novel.

   More important. A Murder of Mages is a fun read. Smiles and laughs lace the story line as the two work the narrow streets of a skid row neighborhood, that Rainey had escaped from early in her life. Add a fast moving plot to the well-rounded characters plus snarling factions and two complicated family lives together, and you get a world that rises above its cliches.

   A funny romp of a who-dun-it set in a well-fleshed out fantasy world with main characters who work well together without getting all smoochy. You can almost touch and taste the world Maresco creates.

Read excerpts and more reviews on Amazon and Nook.

My Writing Rut

   I think I have an inferiority complex. When I read about various authors pounding out two, three thousands words a day, I  hang my head. If I get 500 new, revisionable words down a day, I do a happy dance in my head. I write slower when I revise, and then, cringe if I have to split a chapter because it grew too long.

   Whatever, On  the Run is progressing. I see then end of the middle if another new chapter doesn't pop out of the three I think I have to revise. I shouldn't complain too much. I already have added the transition bit to the beginning chapter of the last third [fourth?]

   Trapper Tremaine went back into his coma. Poor guy, he may never see the light of an ereader. 

  Oh, there is one of my better snippets of On the Run up on my author website. Click to read.

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