Marion Lane is an apprentice at Miss Brickett’s bookstore though the bookstore is a front for an underground detective agency that helps the citizens of post-World War 2 London England. The agency takes cases from any citizen and with their independence from the police they use many gadgets and techniques to solve their cases. The Inquirers, what they call detectives in the agency, who work there are all hand-selected and Marion is one of the lucky few who just began her apprenticeship. While Marion learns her way around this new world and her place in it, a woman is murdered which spirals the agency into its darkest days. Will Marion be the one to solve the mystery and save the agency.
Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder follows the adventure of the titular character. Marion is an apprentice in Miss Brickett’s, as she works her way up to being an Inquirer. For most of her life, Marion is a quiet person who doesn’t take many risks. She has a natural knack for anything machinery related. Following the death of her mother, Marion is more closed off and doesn’t trust many people. After a significant event, Marion dons a braver face as she solves a murder and to clear the name of someone she cares for.
Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder was way better than what I could ever imagine. It has everything you could want for a detective novel: solid plot, great setting, loveable characters, and even wonderful diction and storytelling. Right from the first chapter, I was hooked, especially after the diction the author uses. Even more impressive is that this novel is a debut novel for this author, however, it is written in a way that doesn’t seem like this is her first book. The storytelling is on point and everything has nice flow.
The aspect I really enjoyed about this novel is the setting and how it relates to the plot. Set in London, most of the story takes place underground, which gives everything a more claustrophobic feel, which parallels the mysterious murder at midnight. I also enjoyed the mystery. While reading, I was actively trying to solve it alongside the protagonist. The author gives just the right amount of detail to get the gears grinding, without revealing too much, which is a testament on how well written this novel is. The characters were also enjoyable. Marion as a protagonist was great. She wasn’t too smart or too gifted. She was a normal woman, which helped empathize and relate to her. The side characters were also pretty great, however, some of the more obscure friends weren’t characterized as much.
The only downside of this novel was the beginning after the first chapter. It takes a bit to get back to the intensity the first chapter conveys, but after reaching that threshold, you will be hooked.
Overall, this is one of the best novels I have read in a long time. It was a very fun read, with a strong plot and mystery, fun characters, and a great balance of difficulty. Definitely recommend picking this one up for a read.
I really enjoyed this novel. The plot is super interesting and the characters are great. The artwork on the American cover is really cool, although I think the other cover looks even better. I had a hard time believing this was T.A. Willberg’s debut novel, and it is a fun read. Personally, I love mystery novels, but I haven’t read one in a while and this was great. Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder feels like a book that is going to be huge in a little while and you need to check it out. Let’s dive into what makes this book so good.
The plot for one is both smooth but oh so complex. We are introduced to basically a brand new world, with gadgets and pieces of technology that don’t exist today. The first chapter was totally unexpected, instant death, but it sets up the tone nicely. The book rolls along at a pretty decent pace. There are a few slow or wasted moments here and there, but overall it doesn’t feel boring or slow. The first half of this book builds towards the “who done it’ moment, but it also builds the world below London in ways I didn’t expect. I was under the influence this was a one-off book but after reading it, I’m hoping for a sequel soon. The world-building is great, and the details bring a slightly confusing location together.
My biggest issue with romance and mystery novels is the same. The punch comes at the very end, and then the book ends. Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder doesn’t do that. I won’t go much further, but we learn more about the killing a lot sooner than I expected. I think that aspect folds back into the whole building of the world surrounding Marion Lane, and it works well.
The character development is pretty decent, and we actually see quite a few characters. For those of you who read our review of Borrowmans Cell, that novel has a lot of characters but nearly no development. I enjoyed learning about almost all of the characters individually. Whether it was the main protagonists, our antagonists, or other Inquirers and apprentices, we learn a lot. The backstories help us understand where the plot is going and what motivates our characters, and it makes that emotional connection really easy. All in All, Marion is a great character, and I hope we get to see more of her adventure.
I am a huge fan of this novel already, and I’m hoping for more. If you have a couple free evenings, this book will get read so fast. It starts a little bit slow as the world evolves, but the back end is nearly impossible to put down. Whether you get books from Amazon, Indigo, or another bookshop, this one should be added to your list of must-reads.
With this being a pretty new book that I had not heard of in the slightest I had no idea what to expect but I can say I was pleasantly surprised. The best way I would describe this novel is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter which as a fan of both series I highly enjoyed. One of my favourite parts of books like this is just learning how its world works and how the characters interact with the environment and the oddities of these extravagant and mysterious worlds. With a location like Miss Brickett’s, it really feels like there are many people inside the agency, and every time the author describes a certain part of the agency, I want to know more about how it works. Every time a location like a cafeteria, common room or bar is mentioned it adds to the realism for me and with each being described in great detail which helped make it feel like it could’ve been real. The characters were all given very distinct personalities and each character had a role to play with no one character being great at everything which I liked. Marion herself is good with machines and gadgets which helps her piece together certain aspects of the mystery. Marion’s friend Bill is a bookworm and good with research and so his contribution starts with that. That’s what I really liked about the characters is that their skills really did come into play and made apparent early on. I found that the mystery itself was well crafted with interesting reveals and developments that keep the story intriguing throughout. The story also diverges from the typical mystery storytelling path and I like the way they change the narrative so as to be different. T.A. Willberg, the author, also leaves the door open with an easy way to continue cases with Miss Brickett’s and Marion Lane.
All in all, this is a great new book that I’m glad I read that fits neatly into that mystery genre that I love so much. So, if you’re looking for something new that definitely has the potential for more I would definitely give this a try.
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