Released: July 7, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: E-galley, 352 pages
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.
A Murder of Mages marks Marshall Ryan Maresca's debut novel of The Maradaine Constabulary series. This series is separate from his Maradine series, which unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of reading. A Murder of Mages introduces readers to Satrine (Tricky) Rainey and Minox (Jinx) Welling, two third class inspectors who partner together to work the mean streets of Maradine. A Murder of Mages reads as a fantasy novel that intermixes with mystery elements. The world building has the feeling of a story that might take place in the late thirteenth or fourteenth century France, although Satrine wearing pants makes that unlikely.
Satrine is by far my favorite character in this story, although Minox has his moments as well. She's a former street rat who was recruited by Druth Intelligence. She later found love with Inspector First Class Loren Rainey, who has a solid reputation, and had two daughters Rian and Caribet. Unfortunately for Satrine, her husband currently lies in a state of fugue unable to take care of himself after nearly being killed. It is now up to Satrine to support her family before they find themselves on the streets.
Faking her way into the Constabulary as an inspector third class, Satrine is paired up with inspector Minox Welling. Thanks to her street knowledge and her Druth training, Satrine offers up a different perspective than Jinx's past partners. Both are highly intelligent and Satrine's observations exceed the other inspectors. I would offer that Satrine was only doing exactly what any good mother wanting what's best for her family would do. Lying to save your family is sometimes a necessary evil. I would offer that Satrine is a remarkably resilient character after all she's been through since she was a child.
Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage. Nicknamed “jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox ends up being partnered with Satrine who brings a different feeling to the job. Minox is an odd duck in that he really seems to care about solving unsolved crimes while everyone else walks away. He goes about business in such a way that nobody can wrap their minds around what he is thinking or doing, except perhaps his new partner. Minox is kind of an outcast. Uncircled mages are treated like little more than whale dung on the bottom of the ocean. Minox is a late bloomer when it comes to his magic, and really needs some guidance before he hurts an innocent.
Mysteries can be done really good, poorly, or lazily. In this case, Maresca's villain is devious, intelligent, and he outplays Satrine and Minox at every turn. He's one of those characters that hides in plain sight, and you don't see him coming until he's already beaten you and made you look like an amateur among professionals. I like that Maresca waited until the last few chapters before he truly identified the villain and why he targeted Circle Mages. I like that Maresca didn't give either Satrine or Minox and easy time of things. They both face stiff and dangerous challenges to their persons and their careers. I also like that there are plenty of other mysteries, including Loren's, for the partners to attempt to solve.
Unfortunately, I do have minor issues with this story, in particular, the world building. I'd like to have learned more about this particular world and what century we are really dealing with. Is it the past, or the future? We are told that Maradine has been at war, but we have no idea who it is with, or what started it, or who else may threaten Maradine. Are we, as readers, supposed to presume that because this is a mystery driven story that the background doesn't really need to be addressed? Are we to presume that Mages are the all powerful, and no other?
Other than my last paragraph, I will definitely look forward to the next book in this series, and in the meantime, might also try to read The Thorn of Denton Hill (Maradine # 1) sometime soon.
**I received this book for free from (DAW) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**