Looks like Marshall Ryan Maresca has built himself a nice little world in Maradaine. Inspired by 19th Century London, the sprawling city is apparently filled with stories — A Murder of Mages is his second this year, following the YA adventure The Thorn of Dentonhill.
The two novels are quite different, and are only tangentially related. Thorn was a coming-of-age tale of a magical vigilante, while A Murder of Mages
is a police procedural following a pair of detectives hunting a serial killer.
Satrine Rainey is an ex-spy and the wife of a former constable, crippled after his last case went wrong. Denied a living wage from his pension, Satrine lies her way onto the Maradaine Constabulary and is partnered with Minox “Jinx” Welling, an erratic, uncircled mage whose partners have a tendency to die in the line of duty.
The pair’s first case cuts uncomfortably close for both of them, as it takes Satrine back to the slums where she grew up, and face to face with a bully who tormented her as a child, now an aging prostitute with a bevy of street urchin children. And Minox is having trouble facing up to his own outcast position in the magical community, unwelcome by the guild-like circles and unable to obtain the training to control his burgeoning powers.
Meanwhile the bodies are starting to pile up.
There’s nothing revolutionary about A Murder of Mages, but it is a brisk, entertaining murder mystery that reminded me of Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy stories, longtime favorites of mine. What makes A Murder of Mages so much fun is Maresca’s meticulous worldbuilding in Maradaine. There are plenty more stories lurking within its slums and suburbs, and I can’t wait to visit it again.
Read the full review at “The Nameless Zine.”