A young man is found dead in his bed, with a look of extreme agony on his face and strange tattoos all over his body. His distraught senator father suspects a cult death, and knows who to call for discreet resolution.
Enter Felix the Fox, a professional investigator. In the business of ferreting out dark information for his clients, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a competent magician — but something in between. Drawing on his contacts in shady elements of society and on his aborted education in the magical arts, Felix dons his toga and sets out to discover the young man’s killers.
Murder In Absentia is set in a fantasy world. The city of Egretia borrows elements from a thousand years of ancient Roman culture, from the founding of Rome to the late empire, mixed with a judicious amount of magic. This is a story of a cynical, hardboiled detective dealing with anything from daily life to the old forces roaming the world.
After indulging in fairy tale retellings for so long, it was time to switch things up and try something new. Enter in the Mystery and Thriller genres. The genres are such a new endeavor for me that I don’t know who the “headliners” are in those categories (except maybe Stephen King), so where do I begin?
Earlier this year I reviewed A DEADLY DECEPTION by Tessa Harris (review here) to get started. Then I remembered that one of my early beta readers is a published author and what does he write? Mystery! So I picked up a copy of MURDER IN ABSENTIA by Assaph Mehr. This is my review.
They say that the “Devil is in the details,” though I don’t know who coined it first. Regardless of the phrase’s origins, it certainly applies to MURDER IN ABSENTIA. It’s quite clear from the very beginning where Mehr’s strengths lie. The main character, Felix, is knowledgeable with a touch of eccentricity, reminding me of Dr. Temperance Brennan from the TV show, Bones. Felix’s factual, no-holds-barred persona takes a bit of getting used to. I wonder if that trait is by design?
There were multiple times when I thought the tale would go one way and things went a completely different direction. With pirates, magic, and sailing ships, and a few gritty, mysteries abound, the reader’s drawn into a place where magic is as commonplace as the people who live with it.
While I am happy to have delved into a different kind of adventure, I’m not sure if Felix’s tales are right for me. Reader tip: utilize the glossary and references in the back if interpretation is needed. Had I known they were back there, I would most definitely have used them throughout the read. I cannot ignore the vast wealth of knowledge Mehr has on his chosen subjects, and appreciate the inclusion of the glossary.
I’ll be completely honest here – If took a bit of time to finish this book. That has everything to do with it being outside my usual genres. That’s why it’s taken so long to get this particular review out. In my Kindle, Felix is surrounded by a bunch of princesses, and wannabe princesses. I’m not sure if he’d enjoy that or not!
If you enjoy a Roman-y read, give MURDER IN ABSENTIA a try.
My Rating: FOUR out of FIVE stars
In my adventure of reviewing books, I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not going to love every story I read, be it from the library, a second hand store, ARCs from NetGalley, or directly from the authors themselves. I will always be upfront with where I got the book:
I purchased MURDER IN ABSENTIA via Amazon. This did not affect my review.