After losing his parents in the Floating Castle Incident, the sensitive and mannered Chris Buckley has spent six years raising his magically talented little sister, Rosemary. They have been living on the savings that his once-wealthy family left behind. That money is drying up, and Chris finds himself with no choice but to seek out work in Darrington City as it spirals into a depression. The only employer willing to consider his empty résumé is O. Faraday, the manic Deathsniffer. Faraday’s special magical gift is a heightened intuition which is invaluable in hunting down murderers.
When a Duchess calls on Olivia to solve the mystery of her dead husband, Chris finds himself tangled in Faraday’s daily life and unable to extract himself from the macabre questions of the investigation. His involvement grows more complicated as political forces close around Rosemary. They only see her as a tool that can be used to end the depression at the cost of her freedom—or even her life.
Chris must juggle the question of who killed Viktor val Daren with the responsibility of keeping Rosemary and her magic safe from those who would use her up and toss her aside. Worst of all, he begins to learn that the national disaster that took his parents’ lives may not have been the accident it seemed.
Set in a world very similar to 1900s London, The Deathsniffer’s Assistant combines the investigative murder mystery with a tale of personal and societal redemption. It is about the relationships between broken people who clash more often than not, but manage to shape and learn from one another in spite of this. The story is told from the perspective of Christopher Buckley, young and impressionable and influenced by the prejudices of his time, as he finds himself surrounded by a cast of exceptional women whose differing characters will slowly reconstruct his understanding of strength in others—and in himself.
Meet my 4th Bomy Award of Excellence of the year, The Deathsniffer’s Assistant by Kate McIntyre. This is obviously my Mystery/Thriller year, because all of my Bomy Awards of Excellence have been from that area 😀
What could be better than an Edwardian fantasy world, where all kinds of fantastic creatures – salamanders, elementals & such – are bound into objects, people communicate via magic mirrors as if they’re telephones, and everyone in the city is categorized as one or another kind of magic user? What, I ask you, could be better? I’ll answer it too: a sassy, irreverent, uber-fun female character and a beta male side-kick who allows us to enjoy her from an outside-perspective!
While the fantasy world was delicious, what I loved all the more about The Deathsniffer’s Assistant were the characters. I know it’s not gonna be fair to our MC, Chris, who is a lovely and loyal boy, but for me the absolute star was Olivia 😀
To be fair though, let’s talk about Chris first. I’m thrilled to see more and more beta male characters in my reads. Don’t get me wrong, alpha males are really hot and exciting to read about, but I find beta males to interesting more often than not – they’re complex characters, multi-dimensional, and they make the person they’re beside shine at full value. Chris was all of that, and more. He was entirely loyal and dedicated to his little sister, Rose, to their family home. A cultured, educated, uber-polite young man, a little superficial when it came to judging people by their shoes, but what would you expect – the boy is 19 after all 🙂 There are bound to be some immature personality traits at that age. Him getting a job, finding ways to take care of his little sister, starting life as a parent though he’s the big brother actually made this a New Adult novel, imo.
Olivia was entirely fascinating, though. Irreverent, independent, intelligent, utterly amusing and charming – you get my point. She’s the Sherlock-ian figure of the duo, the detective, the mystery solver, while Chris is the assistant. Olivia was an utter and irrevocable delight, snarky, no-BS, slightly erratic in places – because when your mind and truthsniffing are working overtime, it’s tough to be chilled-out -. I loved her a terrible lot, and found the fact she wasn’t the actual MC a stroke of genius. These are the kinds of characters that are charismatic, interesting, fascinating in fact enough to experience from their own POV, but even more so from another’s – like say their assistant, sidekick by large. So while Olivia was the star for me, she wasn’t the actual MC, and that was a brilliant move. Kudos Kate McIntyre!
The murder mystery was very interesting, very well paced imo and not predictable – which says a lot, coming from a murder mystery rabid fan such as I am. I loved everything about it, the suspects, the red herrings, their motivations, the investigative procedure – all of it! Loved, loved, loved! Aside the mystery, I sense a slightly romantic tone surrounding Chris, and I think further along in the series we will see him fall for someone. He’s at the right age, lol! I’m sadistically looking forward to that moment, because his obsession with propriety and what’s not so say while you do feel it is bound to make for some delicious romantic tension, mwahahaha. I R unabashed evil reader of doom xD
The third person, past tense narrative, from Chris’s POV was so very awesome! His almost obsessive polite behavior, but his slightly judgmental real voice, made Olivia stand out all the more as gutsy, irreverent, snary – it brought delicious contrast and tension into every scene they were both in. Loved, loved, loved the writing!
The cover is really, really cool, and the blurb was entirely hooking too. This is absolute impulsive buy material for me.
I fully, wholeheartedly recommend The Deathsniffer’s Assistant to all fantasy and mystery fans out there. It’s a smart, creative, well-written and well-thought murder mystery, with fascinating characters, good writing with the due amount of humor to lighten the literally bloody atmosphere – lol. A series I will undoubtedly follow in the future, as I will Kate McIntyre’s future work. Big, big like!