Murder In Absentia by Assaph Mehr, 310 Pages, Purple Toga Publications, October 19th 2015, Genre: Historical Fantasy Fiction. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
Murder In Absentia by Assaph Mehr is a unique burrito: hard-boiled meat, smothered in urban fantasy sauce and lovingly wrapped inside a historical fiction tortilla. Warmed to near perfection, it provides cross-genre readers with a savory new creation.
We follow Felix the Fox, a private investigator in Egretia, part of the ancient Roman Empire. A realist and a bit of a cynic, Felix accepts his lot in ancient Roman life, despite at times not liking or agreeing with what goes on around him. Corpio hires Felix to find out who is responsible for the bizarre murder of his only son, Caeso. Some cabal performed the Rite of Pelegrinus on his body, turning his heart to a ruby and ultimately killing him. The fact that his corpse is now defiled is a nefas, or sacrilege, a taboo in ancient Rome. Felix questions friends and lovers around town, but as he digs up more clues, it leads to more questions. Felix travels in order to cover the journey the young Caeso made before his death, hoping to discover the missing puzzle pieces and solve the ghastly magical murder. He meets Caeso’s uncle, aunt, and cousin, and visits a sybil on a lonely little island. Her brew gives him a troubling and curious vision Felix can’t immediately solve, a vision showing young Aemilia, Caeso’s cousin, in danger. As Felix gets more involved with a local underground cabal, he uncovers a duplicitous plan. Will Felix be able to protect Aemilia, uncover the cabal’s schemes, and discover Caeso’s killer?
My favorite thing about this book is Mehr’s loving attention to detail, immersing the reader in ancient Rome. It was fascinating to see what it would’ve been like to live in that time and place. Mehr made Rome come alive on the page. Of all the characters, we get to know Felix the best. Felix may not be the most reputable man in Rome, but he certainly has his own code of honor, one he does not betray. Magic is an integral part of life in Mehr’s Rome and it has real world effects. It’s a good thing Felix attended the Collegium Incantatorum and learned valuable lessons about magic.
If you’re looking for something a bit different and enjoy cross-genre works, this historical urban fantasy mystery will be right up your alley.
You can find it at Murder In Absentia.
This is a story of Togas, Daggers and Magic – for lovers of Ancient Rome, Murder Mysteries, and Urban Fantasy.
“Hardcore Historical Fantasy – Felix the Fox is Sherlock Holmes in Ancient Times”
— Jonathan Maas, author of City of Gods – Hellenica
“Mehr’s imagined world based on ancient Rome feels at once familiar and dreamlike.”
— Ruth Downie, author of the Medicus series of Roman mysteries
“Mehr is a master alchemist, blending the real and surreal on a captivating flight of fantasy.”
— Cynthia Celmer
“YESSS! Harry Dresden in a toga. A bit lighter on the magic usage, but every bit as colorful and intriguing!”
— Leslie Conzatti, Erin Sky, and a surprising number of Dresden Files fans
A young man is found dead in his bed, with a look of extreme agony on his face and strange tattoos all over his body. His distraught senator father suspects foul play, and knows who to call on.
Enter Felix the Fox, a professional investigator. In the business of ferreting out dark information for his clients, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a traditional magician — but something in between. Drawing on his experience of dealing with the shady elements of society and on his aborted education in the magical arts, Felix dons his toga and sets out to discover the young man’s killers.
Murder In Absentia is set in a fantasy world. The city of Egretia borrows elements from a thousand years of ancient Roman culture, from the founding of Rome to the late empire, mixed with a judicious amount of magic. This is a story of a cynical, hard-boiled detective dealing with anything from daily life to the old forces roaming the world.
Virtual Fantasy Con Awards:
1st place: Dark Fantasy / Horror Book & Author
2st place: Urban Fantasy Book & Author
3st place: Favorite Fantasy Series
Voted #1 on Goodreads’ Indie Books Worth the Read for 2016!
About the Author:
“I have always been fascinated by ancient Rome, from the time I was in primary school and first got my hands on Asterix. This exacerbated when my parents took me on a trip to Rome and Italy – I whinged horribly when they dragged me to “yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling”, yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art.
A few years ago I randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair. I fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. When I decided to sit down and write a novel, the setting was clear in my mind.”
Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and – this being Australia – assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he’s writing – he seems to do his best writing after midnight.
To contact Assaph visit http://egretia.com.