Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Review: The Metaphysical Detective

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The Metaphysical Detective, by Kirsten Weiss

Kyra's star ratings:
Story: * * *
Characters: * * * *
Writing: * * * * *
Emotional engagement: * * *

The Metaphysical Detective is kind of two books in one. It starts out as a noir-ish paranormal murder mystery in San Francisco, with Riga Hayworth as a magically talented PI who has her own mysteries (HOW long has she been hired to house-sit for?!?) trying to untangle a series of seemingly-unrelated but way too coincidental deaths. I love the atmospheric descriptions of San Francisco (a city I've only visited twice but loved it both times) and the increasingly intriguing mystery. Riga's mysterious admirer, Donovan Mosse, is pretty awesome in an arrogant-but-he-deserves-to-be-so-arrogant way, and I really enjoyed the parts with Brigitte, Riga's gargoyle friend and companion.

Then, when things are really getting interesting, the action switches to Mt. Olympus and Greek mythology and a locked-room murder mystery in Zeus's palace. That part was fun too, and the gods were pretty entertaining. This is also where Vinnie, a minor character from earlier in the book, really comes into his own, and I found myself liking him quite a bit.

But the two halves of the book just didn't seem to fit together. There's an explanation of how the gods (who exist as Archetypes) found avatars in the mortal world and were playing out their dramas among humans, but it still seemed like two completely different stories. They were both very entertaining and well-written, but it was kind of jarring switching from San Francisco noir to Mt. Olympus cozy mystery/divine soap opera. More foreshadowing of the importance of Greek mythology in the first part of the book would have helped, as would matching the tone of the two halves a little more closely.

I still recommend this book. The prose is excellent, and the characters are intriguing enough that I was willing to follow them through this adventure and will certainly be checking out Book 2 in the series.

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