“Murder in Absentia” by Assaph Mehr

Murder in Absentia

His father disgraced and impoverished, Felix the Fox uses his cunning and magical training to ferret out secrets for paying customers. When he’s called upon to investigate the mysterious death of a young man from a patrician family, Felix finds himself in the midst of a black magic cabal with sinister intentions.

“Murder in Absentia” takes the tropes of the fantasy genre and combines them with the detective novel, set in a world that’s based on Ancient Rome. The Roman-esque setting is fully realized, reminding me in its detail and verisimilitude of Deborah Davitt’s Valkyrie books, Ben Kane’s Eagles of Rome historical adventure books, and, most of all, Steven Saylor’s excellent Roma Sub Rosa series. The difference is that “Murder in Absentia” is set in an actual fantasy world that only resembles the Roman Empire, rather than in Rome itself. Readers looking for some kind of exact, historically accurate recreation will be disappointed; for readers who enjoy something with that “Roman flavor,” it’s all great fun, and provides much entertainment if you want to figure out which of the characters are “Greek,” which are “Egyptian,” and so on.

The plot is also great fun, with not one but TWO conspiracies, the main one only being revealed at the very end, not to mention pirates, mages, sibyls, etc. etc. The characters are fairly stock standard, and I may have rolled my eyes a tiny bit when Felix ended up in bed with yet another sexually available/aggressive woman, while experiencing romantic tension with the haughty and virginal maiden in need of rescue due to her own impetuousness, but for fans of the fantasy, detective, and adventure genres, this book provides plenty of thrills and excitement, with an unexpected twist at the end.

Amazon link here.

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