Review: Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Series: The Maradaine Constabulary #1
Also by this author: The Thorn of Dentonhill
Published by DAW on July 7th 2015
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Also in this series: An Import of Intrigue
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.
I should preface this review to clearly state that detective stories are more often a miss for me than a hit. I decided to give this one a try because I really enjoyed The Thorn of Dentonhill and was excited to explore more of the city/world.
Murder of Mages takes places after The Thorn of Dentonhill, and while it can definitely be read separately, there are cases and events that are referred to that happened in the the other series. Mysterious murders and such. It was amusing to get the perspective of the Inspectors trying to puzzle out the remnants from some of the action scenes from TToDH.
The story introduces us to Satrine Rainey, the wife of an Inspector that has been grievously injured, leaving him pretty much comatose. Faced with both the loss of her husband’s income and the sudden need to play caretaker to her spouse, while continuing to try and provide for and raise their daughters (now alone), Satrine is faced with some difficult choices on how to keep her family off the streets. What you quickly learn is about Satrine is that she is not one to give up. If there’s not an agreeable option before her, she will find a way to make one. So, that is what she does. She has a very unique background, growing up on the streets and then being trained and serving in Intelligence as a spy. She is certainly not without skills. So, she finagles her way in to an Inspector position across town. One that will pay well enough to support her family.
Her partner, Minox Welling (aka “Jinx”) is an eccentric man that initially appears to be the joke of the Inspectors office. It is quite clear that she is paired with him because no one else is willing to work with him. He earned the nickname Jinx because none of his partners last long. But, as we get to know him, there is a serious method to his madness and he is quite bright. It is also revealed that he is an Uncircled Mage, which adds a very interesting dynamic. I grew to really like Minox, he’s the misunderstood, undervalued, slightly odd character that proves himself to be more than what others seem to think of him.
Now, here comes what didn’t work well for me. This book was very explain-y (I don’t care if that’s not a word. I’m using it). The inspectors would spell out motives and theories, and then come to conclusions that by this point were clear enough that any one should see them coming a mile away. Then they would act like it was ingenious and none of the other inspectors could possibly be as smart as they are. Sigh. Maybe it wasn’t actually that extreme, because as I said earlier, I often don’t do well with detective stories but this was my honest reaction.
But, set the detective parts aside, I enjoyed this. I liked Minox, I loved Satrine’s character. It is a change of pace getting a female lead character that is also a mother and is fully devoted to her husband, even with him being pretty much gone despite still being there in body. I also enjoyed the parallels to the other series. So, despite a bit of eye rolling with the detective work, I did like this book. I also think there’s a very good chance I will read the subsequent books because I’m quite curious about the characters in this one and want to know what happens next for them.