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.
Worldbuilding: The urban (though historical) fantasy world of Maradaine was beyond delicious. We’ve got it all, social stratification, unrest, magic, poverty…you name it, it’s there. It made for an incredibly vivid setting, and a fascinating journey I am looking forward to take again as soon as possible.
Characters: Rainey and Welling were, simply put, amazing. Rainey, devoted wife caring for her incapacitated husband, devoted mother, uber-awesome ex-Intelligence, smart and witty. Welling, brilliant deductive mind, terribly proper and polite, and I won’t lie, reminiscent of Sherlock in some brilliant/detached yet marvelously charismatic way. Where Rainey gets under skin with her care, devotion and resourcefulness, as well as kickass skills, Welling wins you over via his super-analytical mind and determination. Plus, Uncircled – so a rebel, a non-joiner by nature which I always but always love.
Long story short, the characters were very well built, authentic, they had depth, they were fun and witty, and a pleasure to follow. Big like!
Plot: The mystery was very intriguing and I didn’t see the solution coming, always a big plus. There’s a serial killer, which is always interesting to read about, and while the means of committing the crimes involve magic aspects, the actual motive was disturbingly regular-human with a nutjob twist, of course. I loved the pace of the novel, alert but not overlooking the investigative process procedure. Love.
Writing: Third person, past tense narrative, from Rainey’s and Welling’s POV. Really enjoyed the writing, Welling’s voice has a somewhat proper-English charm to it and it’s a plus for me. 😀
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, super hooking blurb – compulsive buy material for sure!
All in all, I highly recommend this novel to lovers of mystery and investigative procedurals, and to lovers of Urban Fantasy since it has a strong female lead. While there’s no romance, there is a lot of love and family together-ness going on, so if you’re into that too, then all the more reason to read this mystery. I will most certainly be looking forward to the next one in the series!
This was my first M.R. Maresca read, but most assuredly not my last!