Murder in-absentia was a surprisingly well-blended bit of magical Roman fantasy, and I mean that quite literally.
We follow the protagonist, Felix the Fox, through a uniquely winding tale of murder and magic. Felix himself is versed in a bit of magic, and uses that to his advantage when the son of a powerful man is found dead under mysterious circumstances. That magic, little as it might be, serves him well throughout his investigation.
If you’re hoping for the typical brand of murder-mystery, drama, and everything in between, this is not your novel. In fact, this reads more like an episode of House than anything. Right up to the ending which, I will admit, I didn’t see coming. There is a fair share of action, to be sure, and Felix engages when he has to, but it isn’t usually his first choice.
Egretia is such a detailed world. Mehr has done an absolutely wonderful job of creating not just an enriched world, but a detailed one at that. In a very Tolkein-esque maneuver, Mehr has provided glossaries, maps, and appendices for almost everything in the novel. The use of Latin throughout the book does call for such a thing, especially for those not well-versed in Roman history or language. The use is sprinkled rather copiously, but it’s not enough to boot you out of the story. Mehr does well enough to provide context clues or direct translations. The attention to historical detail is absolutely wonderful, and it’s such a joy to see authors combining different passions into a novel.
Some of the narrative was a little long and rambling, focusing on providing the reader with precise details of the world, back story, or just gentle observations to help you get to know Felix a little better. It was very well edited, and even the use of first-person wasn’t a boon on the narrative. A little boring sometimes, but that happens.
Murder in-absentia was a pretty good read. It was unique, thought-out, and well researched. I was a little disappointed in the ending, as well as the relative good fortune and lack of character development that Felix maintained throughout. However, I believe this is only the first novel in the series and those are things that could easily be coming for us in future novels.
Buy it here!