Felix is not a tabby cat (thanks to the author’s lovely wife whom he has dedicated this book) but a middle-aged, toga-donning, magic wielding(sometimes faking), sleuth lurking in the dark lanes and docks of Egretia. Oh, I missed squid-on-a-stick-loving and cunning.
Assaph Mehr has posted a decent collection of short stories on his website FELIX THE FOX MYSTERIES. I have read all of them and suggest you do the same. Not only you will get a background on the exciting mystery series, but you will also get a glimpse of Mr. Mehr’s writing style. I checked his website and was absorbed into the world of Felix before I looked for the book on Amazon. I found my copy on Kindle Unlimited.
This review was sitting in my draft collection of posts for a long time. I had stayed away from my blog for the last few weeks, busy writing a few short stories. Today, I made time and had decided to do a makeover before taking my bohemian mind out for a walk. That’s how I found Felix lurking in the corner of my forgotten posts.
Murder in Absentia is the first novel in the series.
Set up in the imaginary Rome inspired territory of Egretia, the story runs as a typical murder mystery/ crime thriller with a smart detective.
Felix the FoxBoth the book covers (two different editions) were interesting. One featured the toga-detective, while the other showed the mysterious island where a part of the mystery became more mysterious.
An important government official calls the curious Felix, also known as The Fox, to investigate the circumstances and cause of his son’s death. Felix, of course, is offered a hefty price to solve the crime with discretion. Looking at the dead body, Felix and his readers can safely assume the involvement of sorcery in the boy’s death.
Now we take a journey with our beloved Fox through the various social strata of Egretia leaving no stone unturned in the search for clues. The world-building is gradual, well spread-out, and very satisfying. By the time I had finished reading the book, I had a fair idea of Egretia’s geography and the island’s, without looking at the map.
The author’s website offers a detailed and high-resolution map.
You will find a glossary at the end of the book which explains all the Latin terms, characters and places.
Felix introduces us to the lovely and intelligent Amelia, besides a few allies and enemies of The Fox.
While we are busy hunting down the people involved in the boy’s death, his friends and potential foes who were in touch with him in his last days and near past, we get glimpses of Felix’s past.
A partially educated magician, a self-made detective, and unusually attached to his slave, Felix shows us many facets of emotion. He loves, fights and forgives his friend for taking away that love.
A smart man, Felix makes sure of his safety by hiring muscles to protect him, while he goes on a particularly shady deal. I appreciate the fact that this is no Superman detective. He fears for his life and is smart enough to seek help.
The suspense is drawn out till the end of the book, but the conclusion isn’t as outstanding as the build-up. That’s my opinion, of course. Without adding spoilers, it would be tough to discuss the closure, so I leave it to your taste.
The length of the book, in my opinion, could have been shorter. A few scenes felt forced and unnecessary after I reached the resolution. The obvious red herrings weren’t that intriguing. I found the adventure and world-building aspects of the book greater than the murder mystery.
Overall, Murder in Absentia is an exciting, detailed, gripping murder mystery that will keep you hooked.
I recommend this (as the author has suggested) for those who like murder mysteries with an unusual flavor of dark fantasy. If you like the rich culture of ancient Rome, you will live Egretia and her gastronome of a toga-wearing detective.
I offer 3.5 Bohostars to The Fox (oops, sorry), Murder in Absentia.
Yes, a lurker and sorcerer detective who loves food is the ultimate fantasy, isn’t it?