Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder T A Willberg
By T A Willberg
- Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder T A Willberg
Author: T A Willberg
- Series: An Inquirers Mystery
- ISBN: 9781409196631
- Published: May 2021
- Pages: 316
- Format reviewed: Hardback
- Review date: 15/05/2021
- Language: English
Mystery is a powerful tool. You can exude a sense of power from the shadows that may not be true if a light was shined on you. The premise of T.S. Willberg’s Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder begins thus, with a mysterious detective agency, but we soon delve deep under the streets of London to discover how this operation works. Will revealing the magic behind the curtain work?
The people of London do not know the name of Miss Brickett's Detective Agency, but they have heard the rumours. They are known as the Inquirers, private detectives who work for no pay and stay in the shadows. If you cannot afford to hire a professional or are too scared to go to the police, just place a note in one of the mysterious hidden letter boxes found around the city. The Inquirers have helped a lot of people, but who Inquires about the Inquirers when one of their own is murdered?
Marion Lane follows the titular protagonist during her first-year apprenticeship at Miss Brickett's Detective Agency. This is an agency unlike any other as it is housed in a series of underground tunnels unknown to the rest of London. The book feels like it has an Urban Fantasy feel to it, but it is more an alternative history book with some hints of fantastical elements. It appears that there is no magic at Miss Brickett’s agency, just innovative technology for the time that borders on Steampunk.
The opening of the book makes you think this will be a crime story told on the streets of London. However, you soon realise that this book is about a crime within the agency. Marion should be a peripheral character to the case, but her natural inquisitive nature and the naming of the suspect soon has her running her own side operation. The Agency is packed full of characters that we meet, which also means that it is packed full of potential suspects.
I did find blowing open the doors of the Agency a little surprising as I initially thought it would sit silently in the background revealing itself over several novels. Instead, we learn the ins and out. The people of London may think that the Inquirers are somehow magical, but we learn that they are humans, with human flaws – like the need to murder. Willberg has created a bustling and thriving agency that just happens to be hidden underground. There are office politics and office romances, all of which muddy the waters when they are forced to investigate themselves.
Having Marion as the main character is a great way of introducing the reader to the various elements of the Agency as she is learning alongside us. Although she is in her twenties, the book does have the feel of a school/college drama in places as the various apprentices struggle to find their place in the group. The relationships are strong, and the book would suit a reader who likes to delve into group dynamics. The book would make a compelling read for people who grew up reading the Harry Potter series. It has that same sense of characters having shared experiences and the book even has something like The Marauders Map, an element that hints the world of Marion Lane could in fact be magical.
Willberg hands over the keys to Miss Brickett’s to the reader and with them, a lot of information. We learn about the characters, the setting, and this version of 1950s London. All this acts as a great base for a crime story. We may know more about the Detective Agency, but the forbidden corridors and ambiguous characters still have a lot to hide. This is a crime story at heart, and it is set up so that an observant reader may be able to solve the case alongside Marion. This would make a great read for someone looking for a strong mystery, with just a taste of the unfathomable.
Written on 15th May 2021 by Sam Tyler .