Book Review: Murder in Absentia by Assaph Mehr

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫4.5 out of 5 stars

A young man from a politically powerful family is found dead under strange circumstances. A wily investigator with wit and resourcefulness to spare is hired to investigate the matter and help the boy’s family keep the sordid details from a gossip-hungry public. Sounds like the makings of a great detective story, right? Absolutely! But did I mention the tale takes place in a fantasy city called Egretia (inspired by Ancient Rome) where magic, mythology and intrigue abound? This unique combination elevates Murder in Absentia from the morass of detective stories out there to the level of something truly remarkable. 

Felix the Fox is a down-on-his luck detective with some truly hard times in his past. Hailing from a well respected family that has fallen from grace, Felix has learned to rely on his cunning (hence the nickname Fox) to survive. When he is hired by a distraught father to investigate the death of a young man, Felix has his work cut out for him. The boy’s death is clearly the result of some forbidden, arcane magical rite, his body twisted by the pain of his final moments and his heart transformed into a giant gemstone. Felix’s investigation takes him from the pinnacle of Egretian society to the darkest, most dangerous back alleys, and from secret backroom cabals to public gladiatorial games. The combination of fictionalized history, mythology and magic lent Felix’s investigation many unique aspects. 

The pacing of Murder in Absentia was well developed. Felix’s investigation was realistic and thorough, without bogging the reader down in minutiae. Felix is a fun character; he is quick on his feet and able to either charm or con his way through almost any situation. The world building is solid, with enough relatable history to balance the fantasy and all done in such a way as to weave a beautiful tapestry. I applaud the author for his obvious love of Roman history and his willingness to thumb his nose at certain historical conventions, thereby creating a wonderfully entertaining read! I’m looking forward to more adventures with Felix!

I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for a new spin on the detective trope. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read it free, so grab your copy HERE.


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